Republicans Grow Increasingly Desperate In Defense Of Trump
The GOP's efforts to defend the President are becoming more desperate and pathetic by the day.
As the impeachment inquiry continues to close in on President Trump, his Republicans defenders are becoming more desperate:
Republicans’ defense of President Trump grew more frantic and disjointed Wednesday, with House members storming a closed-door meeting, delaying the testimony of an impeachment witness as the GOP grappled with a growing abuse-of-power scandal centered on the president.
A group of Trump’s congressional allies escalated their complaints about the impeachment inquiry by barging into a secure facility on Capitol Hill where a Pentagon official was to testify before the House Intelligence Committee.
Their intrusion, which caused the testimony to be delayed for about five hours over security concerns, came a day after the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine testified under oath that the White House had threatened to withhold military aid unless the Ukrainian government announced investigations for Trump’s political benefit.
The testimony undercut Trump’s claims of his “perfect” dealings with Ukraine and appeared to push Republican lawmakers into a more aggressive stance as they sought to defend the president from his greatest legal and political threat yet.
“I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said Wednesday morning on Twitter, referring to the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. “Still inside — more details to come.”
The lawmakers staged the dramatic protest while making process arguments that sidestepped the substance of the central allegations underpinning the impeachment inquiry. Democrats accused the protesting members of compromising security by taking their phones into the secure area, where cellphones are barred.
Before entering the closed-door hearing, Republican lawmakers held a news conference to decry how Schiff, the California Democrat who runs the Intelligence Committee, was carrying out the panel’s portion of the impeachment inquiry. Several complained about the private nature of the proceedings and claimed that the inquiry was part of a long-running attempt by Democrats to overturn the result of the 2016 presidential election.
But none of the 13 Republicans who spoke defended Trump on the central allegation that he had pushed Ukraine to investigate Democrats while blocking military aid that had been approved for Kyiv.
As current and former Trump administration officials have testified before the Intelligence Committee, with several backing up the whistleblower’s allegations, Republicans have struggled to mount a coherent and consistent defense of the president.
Their responses have vacillated from complaints about the whistleblower’s “secondhand” knowledge of Trump’s actions to arguments that Democrats have not held a vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry, which is not required under House rules.
After Taylor’s testimony, some GOP lawmakers argued that even if Trump held up the military aid for political reasons, it was defensible because the Ukrainian government did not initially know that the money had been stalled.
“You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo,” Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) said Tuesday in a Fox News interview that Trump amplified on Twitter.
One of Trump’s top congressional allies, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), has repeatedly asked the White House for information as he has sought to defend the president, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.
This idiotic and somewhat childish protest by House Republicans is the latest reflection of the fact that their lines of defense against the charges being made against the President with regard to our dealings with Ukraine. When this all started with the whistleblower’s complaint, Republicans and the President concentrated on attacking the whistleblower and the charges made in his (or her) complaint. As it turned out, though, those allegations were backed up by the transcript of the July phone call and by the investigation and subsequent report by the intelligence community’s Inspector General.
With the attacks on the whistleblower having failed, the attack shifted to the claim that there was no direct evidence of a quid pro quo between U.S. aid to Ukraine and cooperation regarding the various investigations that the President wanted Ukraine to undertake. This argument, of course, ignores the fact that the law barring the solicitation of aid for and American political campaign from foreign sources, which can be found at 50 U.S.C. 30121(2). does not require a quid pro quo for there to have been a violation of the law. Even leaving this aside, though, the facts that have been developed and made public have made this defense worthless, most recently in the testimony by Ambassador Bill Taylor earlier this week that provided the most direct evidence yet of the quid pro quo that Republicans were claiming did not exist.
Now, with the facts turning against them, the Republicans are raising what can only be called absurd arguments about the process of the investigation that are clearly designed to be nothing but a smokescreen to stop the public from noticing the fact that the evidence against this President is mounting. Basically, this procedural argument is concentrating on the fact that, so far, the interviews of the main witnesses have been behind closed doors and at least the implication that Republicans are not being allowed to participate in the process. These objections, of course, are without merit.
Contrary to the claims of the White House, many GOP members of Congress, and the conservative media, an impeachment inquiry is not a criminal proceeding or even a criminal investigation. Additionally, this talk of “due process” is utter nonsense and completely misplaced. If anything the current process is analogous to a Grand Jury proceeding, which is generally closed to the public and to the subject of the investigation. Even that analogy is inexact though since, eventually, we will see public hearings in this matter. In any case, there is no requirement for giving the White House access to the proceedings as some have demanded. This is especially true given the fact that Republican Members of Congress are in the room for these hearings and able to ask their own questions. It also ignores the fact that the custom of taking depositions of witnesses before holding public hearings is long-standing in Congress. It happened during Watergate, during the Iran-Contra investigation, and during the endless hearings that House Republicans held on the Benghazi “investigation.” This entire concentration on the phony issue of “due process” is an effort to distract from the fact that, particularly after the testimony of Bill Taylor, the facts are looking very bad for this President and that, like it or not, impeachment is basically inevitable.
There’s an old lawyer’s adage that when the facts are against you, you argue the law and when the law is against you, you argue the facts. We’re now at the point where both the facts and the law are against the Republicans and against the President. In response, they are simply arguing and seeking to distract pubic attention from what matters with phony arguments about “due process” and personal attacks against the leaders of the investigation. This merely demonstrates that they have nothing left to argue.