After weeks of behind-closed doors testimony and years of hoping for this day, the Democratic-led House of Representatives finally passed an official vote formalizing its ongoing impeachment inquiry, thus paving the way for public hearings and testimony about whether or not President Donald Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” in his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
While the only “bi-partisan” aspect of that vote went to the “no’s,” with two Democrats voting with the GOP, it looks like the wheels of impeachment are finally beginning to officially grind toward what we all knew, ever since Democrats won the House in 2018, would be its inevitable conclusion. We all knew it, we just didn’t know exactly what the triggering event would be, what lame Trumpian malfeasance some pencil-necked Deep State “whistleblower” would point and shriek at as the final straw, the ultimate “threat to our Democracy” that they believe just might warrant enough GOP “Well, I never!” crowd support to topple Trump this time.
So, this was it, apparently. This phone call to Ukraine’s president, the one where Trump asked for an investigation into a possible crime possibly committed by someone named Biden, who may or may not face Trump in the general election a year and a half later. Oh, and for an investigation into 2016 election interference, because we can’t forget what’s REALLY offending Democrats, notwithstanding all their hysterics about the Bidens being untouchable and ‘besides it’s been proven they’ve never committed any crimes ever.’ Start looking there, and some of the wrong people might start getting indictments.
Whatever. I, for one, say good. After weeks of hearing Republicans whine and moan about “Process! Process! Process!” it’s time to put up or shut the hell up when it comes to defending President Trump.
Aren’t you tired of it? I mean, Steve Scalise is great, but going from complaining about the “process” before the resolution to now complaining about the “process” - albeit this time with Soviet-style props - established by the resolution itself is getting more than a little old. Put it this way. If someone were arrested in your town for, say, murder, then proceeded to have his attorney complain nonstop about the way the proceedings are being conducted, never once addressing the merits of the prosecution’s case, would you be inclined to think the arrestee was innocent, or guilty and simply trying to mitigate the seemingly inevitable legal consequences?
It’s not that there isn’t a place to argue about “process,” but the focus should be on the fact that the accused is, in fact, INNOCENT of the bogus charges, which are more absurd than the ridiculous “process” ever was.
“This is the United States of America,” Scalise said Thursday. “Don’t run a sham process, a tainted process, like this resolution ensures.” And it wasn’t just Scalise. Republican politician after Republican politician, from Kevin McCarthy to Liz Cheney, were so busy over the past few weeks blasting the “process,” - i.e. the cards they were dealt when they lost in 2018 - that they seemed to neglect focusing on something they might actually succeed at, which is defending President Trump from these bogus charges. (And even if they have at some point defended Trump - and one or more of them they may have - those defenses are getting lost in the smoke of these useless “process” protests.)
Yes, the “process” sucks. I get it. But the charges suck more, a LOT more. Because they’re absurd, and bogus, and even dreaming of removing President Trump from office based on such a silly non-crime as this would be a joke, if anyone were laughing. You got a small “win” by getting the vote and making the hearing public. Congratulations. Did you really think these would-be Bolsheviks were going to give the minority party an even shake?
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham showed us how it’s done in a “Hannity” appearance this week. Sure, he also blasted the “unfair process,” but he made my headline in part because he said Trump “did nothing wrong.”
“This is an unfair process being driven by sore losers and there is not one vote in the United States Senate to impeach President Trump based on this phone call because he did nothing wrong,” said Graham.
Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw got in the weeds with none other than CNN’s Chris Cuomo, a liberal-leaning anchor who, in my opinion, doesn’t get enough credit from the right for his solid questioning and debating skills. But Crenshaw got the best of Cuomo on this one. Watch how he steers the CNN host into the argument that Trump’s ‘lawbreaking’ - i.e. what we’re supposed to be removing a sitting president from office for - actually consisted of some obscure campaign finance violation.
“I’m not sure I agree with the premise that he’s done something wrong,” Crenshaw said after Cuomo tried to get him to agree that, while maybe Trump shouldn’t be “removed,” what he did was still “wrong.” “I understand that there’s a theory about wrongdoing, but the facts don’t back that up.”
Crenshaw defended Trump’s inquiry about Biden as something that, as a possible criminal violation, has a legitimate “public interest,” calling Cuomo’s assertion that Trump went after Biden “because he thought it would be good for him” an “assumption” that would require mind reading.
“That’s a little bit of a game people play in politics,” Cuomo said. “You don’t need to play that kind of game because you have reason on your side here, which is ‘I think he had a legitimate public interest.’ Maybe, but it doesn’t have to be his only interest.”
Crenshaw wondered what the “right answer” would be if something is in the public interest but also “good for the president,” to which Cuomo appeared to appeal to vague campaign finance laws: “Under the law — you can look at the FEC guidelines about this — if you have multiple points of interest in something and one of them helps you in the election, you’ve got trouble.”
“Now you’re trying to make this a campaign finance law thing, and that’s a stretch,” said Crenshaw, giving the CNN anchor a skeptical groan. “That’s an enormous – it’s really difficult to make that kind of political leap.”
That’s just one example, of course, and hopefully only one of many bold defenses to come. The point is, while not everything President Trump does or every word he utters is defensible, that July 25 phone call certainly is, in spades
I get it. The “process” is lame. Republicans can’t call witnesses without Adam Schiff’s approval. That sucks, but it’s the cards you’ve been dealt. Now play them, while you’ve still got a winning hand.