As the impeachment hearings roll along, Republicans in the House (and the White House) have been working feverishly to change their defense of President Donald Trump each time their prior defense (and the respective conspiracy theory on which it was likely based) is debunked by evidence and first-hand testimony.
The Republicans have reached the final stage of their defense:
Yes, Donald Trump did every single terrible thing the whistleblower reported, the textbook definition of a quid pro quo, but we just don’t give a damn as he is one of us. Call it honor among thieves if you will, or more fittingly, honor among traitors.
Just look at some of the recent quotes from House Republicans:
“Asking people to do something in order to get the foreign aid, that’s a relatively common occurrence with all of our foreign aid. You could say all of our foreign aid is quid pro quo.” – Congressman Mike Conway (R-TX)
“It doesn’t matter much anymore.” – Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK)
One House Republican who refused to go on the record stated it best:
“Even if the Democrats’ fact pattern that they’ve laid out turns out to be 100% correct, it does not matter.”
It might not matter to Congressman Cole, sure. He is 70 years old. He is in a district so red that twice in his seven re-election contests the Democrats did not even field a challenger, and when they did, never came within 30 points of him. It will matter to Republicans in competitive districts though, but hey, if an old white Republican thought of someone besides himself, he would be a Democrat, right?
I wonder if Congressman Conway would answer a question, or would use the old standby, “I don’t deal in hypotheticals”? Except see, it is not a hypothetical.
“What if, instead of demanding dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden, and a corroboration of the conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 United States presidential election, Donald Trump had demanded a 10% kickback on that $400 million in military aid to Ukraine? Would THAT just be a president exercising his foreign policy latitude?”
Because what happened with President Trump and Ukraine was NOT a president exercising his foreign policy latitude. The demands (extortion) Trump made had nothing to do with American foreign policy and in no way benefitted America or Americans.
Donald Trump is an illegitimate president elected with overwhelming Russian interference on his behalf. Americans do not know if this assistance was merely Russian benevolence or if there was an arrangement, a quid pro quo if you will, as Attorney General William Barr single-handedly reviewed the Mueller Report and absolved Trump and his associates of any culpability.
But this is Donald Trump we are talking about here. Merely having hired flunkies tell lies on his behalf is seldom enough to appease his ego.
Sure, Rudy Giuliani acts as his personal attorney and lies for Trump every day. Michael Cohen did the same for years before going to prison. Doctors. Press Secretaries. Advisors like Kellyanne Conway. Attorney General Barr is just another in a long line of paid pawns at podiums spreading Trump’s nonsense.
If Trump could force the president of Ukraine to state on the record that not only had Russia not interfered on behalf of Trump, but Ukraine had interfered on behalf of Hillary Clinton, Trump could claim his presidency had legitimacy.
The back half of the Ukraine extortion? Get the president of Ukraine to smear former Vice President Joe Biden (and his son, Hunter) on trumped-up (literally) charges of corruption.
This would serve two purposes: it would eliminate Biden as a potential 2020 opponent and it would retroactively tarnish the largely scandal-free presidency of Barack Obama, the one piece of Obama’s legacy Trump has not been able to touch so far.
Those are the only two things President Trump demanded from Ukraine. He wanted his 2016 victory legitimized. He wanted his 2020 re-election made easier.
There is no foreign policy there.
There is no America First.
There is only Donald Trump demanding, “What are you going to for me?”
There is a corrupt and illegitimate president who used $400 million in military aid (approved by overwhelming and bipartisan votes in the House and Senate) to garner not one but two acts critical and beneficial only to Trump himself.
Republicans in the House and Senate seem poised to shrug their shoulders and say, “Move along, nothing to see here.”
There is nothing citizens can do to stop them. At least not now.
But come November 2020?
The power belongs to the people.
We don’t just want to win elections.
We want justice.
Or better yet, revenge. And oh, how sweet that revenge will be.