The brutal spectacle of watching Republicans kill their nation’s founding principles.
“Trump is the first president in U.S. history to issue a blanket refusal to Congress, when asked to produce witnesses and documents germane to a formal impeachment inquiry — and then have the chutzpah to claim he has had less due process than the witches of Salem.” Illustration by Greg Perry.
Donald Trump was impeached today.
The news usually doesn’t get much bigger than that. It’s only happened to three presidents in U.S. history.
But that isn’t the big story.
The big story is far graver than the procedural comeuppance of a morally bankrupt individual, though impeachment does come with an eternal smudge on the old CV.
The big story is that Donald Trump is now the moral compass of the Republican Party. They have chosen empowered corruption over the Constitution, party over country.
And make no mistake about it, corrupt Donald Trump most assuredly is. Impeachment is just the latest entry on his political rap sheet.
There is the Access Hollywood tape, the Stormy Daniels payoff, rampant nepotism in the White House, ongoing violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, multiple sexual harassment allegations, nasty bromances with vicious dictators from Manila to Moscow, a handful of senior advisors convicted of crimes, and thousands of public lies since assuming the presidency.
And now this.
Out of his own mouth in a documented phone call to the President of Ukraine, out of the mouths of senior officials under oath during the impeachment inquiry, the incontrovertible evidence of a shakedown is there for anyone to see:
The president withheld military funds already approved by Congress for Ukraine, $391 million, until its president publicly announced a corruption investigation into Trump’s potential political rival in America in the 2020 presidential election — Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter. You scratch my back, I’ll grease your palm — Goodfellas stuff.
Trump’s own Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, testified that there was indeed a quid pro quo, that without the public announcement of the inquiry into the Bidens by Volodymyr Zelensky himself, there would be no White House phone-call, or chummy visit to the Oval Office so necessary to Ukraine’s national security — especially with the Russian bear at the door.
Sondland also testified that Trump ordered the quid pro quo through his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and that Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the president’s chief-of-staff, Mick Mulvaney all knew about it. But hey, get over it, right? Quid pro quos happen all the time.
Not according to Fiona Hill. The former U.S. National Security Council foreign affairs specialist testified before Congress that Trump’s National Security Advisor of the day, John Bolton, told her that he was not part of the quid pro quo offer to Ukraine which he described as a “drug deal.”
The new Republican Party cares more about sworn liars than sworn testimony. In the process, it all but disappeared today as the party of Lincoln. Abe freed the slaves; Trump locks up kids in cages.
Yet right there on national television, the GOP embraced the Liar-in-Chief, turned a blind eye to his documented abuse of office, walked away from its constitutional duty, and played to Fox News.
Fox is the network built on one of the three slogans in the dystopian masterpiece 1984: “Ignorance is strength.”
It doesn’t educate its viewers, it pushes their emotional buttons with ugly fictions.
The network doesn’t report the news, it makes it up.
Fox is the preferred destination of the fact-averse and the true-believers, the ones who saw Elvis just yesterday, and believe that Jesus is coming to Ohio.
And oh yes, who think that Trump is the Chosen One to protect them from the dusky hordes invading along the southern border — all those emaciated children and their hollowed-eyed parents.
Fox is the place where two and two is always five.
It is every bit as bad as that and worse. Here’s why:
What the House Republicans did today in overwhelmingly voting against articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, dismissing the factual evidence in front of them in an act of willful blindness, is nothing short of blowing up the Republic as Americans have known it up until now.
They have turned the presidency into a monarchy, and tried to transform their own institution into the rubber stamp of a self-seeking scoundrel. What Americans now have is a system of cheques and imbalances; lobbyists and lickspittles at the service of a tyrant. The country has undergone a sea-change.
Trump is the first president in U.S. history to issue a blanket refusal to Congress, when asked to produce witnesses and documents germane to a formal impeachment inquiry — and then have the chutzpah to claim he has had less due process than the witches of Salem.
Here are the facts.
Trump of his own accord chose not to be involved in the impeachment inquiry, advised witnesses under congressional subpoena not to testify, and turned down the invitation to have his legal representatives take part in the proceedings of the House Judiciary Committee. Does that sound like someone looking for the facts?
By voting against the article of impeachment dealing with Trump’s obstruction of Congress, the Republican Minority has relinquished its powers of oversight, reducing itself to a minion of the Executive Branch.
Bottom line? They voted against separation of powers today, which is the way America has rolled for two and a half centuries. They voted party, not country; self-interest, not national interest. They prostrated themselves in front of an imperial president.
The fix is in
Given that Trump was impeached by the Democratic majority in the House, why is that so terrible?
Because in a few months from now, Trump’s trial in the Senate will take place. It will be presided over by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts, an appointee of Republican president George W. Bush.
The same court, by the way, will decide whether Americans ever get to see Trump’s tax returns. Trump has already appointed two members to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. As with everything else, the president has done his best to politicize the third branch of government — the judiciary.
Trump’s impeachment jurors will be the Senators themselves, the majority of whom are Republican. It would take two-thirds of the chamber’s 100 members to convict and remove the president.
That will never happen.
How do we know that?
Because the guy MSNBC calls Moscow Mitch, otherwise known as the Senate Republican Majority Leader, has already said so. Mitch McConnell says there is no chance the president will be convicted and removed from office; and he doesn’t want any witnesses called.
You read that right. Before the “trial” has begun, or the Majority has even sorted out matters of procedure with the Minority, Mitch McConnell has already announced the verdict.
In so doing, McConnell has completed the destruction of the Republican party begun today by the Republican minority leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy. These two men are the framers’ worst nightmare, lackeys of a corrupt executive branch. As a result of their handiwork, the U.S. Constitution will be left in partisan tatters, perhaps for good. And nothing will change in the White House.
All because a guy named Trump has every office-holding Republican in the land, and more than a few Democrats, shaking in their boots. They know Trump is vengeful and takes down numbers. They fear his reprisals. And should the president prove as popular with the base as he boasts ad nauseam, they fear losing their districts. If fear can turn a Lindsey Graham into a Trumpian Uriah Heep, what can it do to an entire country?
As with much in America, the movies provide some resonance on that very subject.
Jack Nicholson played George Hanson in the iconic 1969 film Easy Rider. Sitting around a campfire, Hanson had this to say to a biker-character named Billy, just before they were beaten by rednecks for being longhaired, dope-smoking, hippies:
“This used to be a helluva good country. I can’t understand what’s gone wrong with it.”
“Man,” Billy replies, “Everybody got chicken, that’s what happened.”