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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 2/2/20

With Trump's Impeachment Trial, Republicans Have Convicted Themselves

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From Mother Jones

The president's defenders waged a war on reality.

Donald Trump Impeachment Trial
Donald Trump Impeachment Trial
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The impeachment trial of Donald Trump was always going to be a fight over reality -- and whether reality matters.

There was no true doubt that Trump had committed the wrongdoing that led the House to impeach him. It was clear he had pressured the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky by withholding a much-coveted White House meeting and $391 million in vital military assistance to compel Zelensky to launch investigations aimed at digging up dirt on Joe Biden and yielding information to boost the nutty and unfounded conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, had hacked the 2016 US election. There was compelling testimony from officials who were witnesses to this extortion scheme. There were documents, including the White House's quasi-transcript that showed Trump pushing the Ukrainian leader for the "favor" of initiating these probes. And once the scandal broke, Trump even publicly exclaimed he wanted the Ukrainian government -- and the Chinese government -- to investigate Biden. His chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, declared at a press conference that Trump withheld the aid in part to push Ukraine to investigate the baseless Russia-Didn't-Do-It theory.

Yet Trump and his defenders have denied there was any untoward scheme. They have denied facts. They have denied reality. During the impeachment hearings in the House, Republican legislators insisted that Trump blocked the aid because he was concerned about burden-sharing and about corruption in Ukraine. And they endeavored mightily to distract from Trump's misconduct by shouting about the Steele dossier, the whistleblower who triggered the Ukraine scandal, Hunter Biden's work for a Ukrainian energy company, and the baseless notion that Kyiv intervened in the 2016 election. Anything but Trump's attempt to cut a dirty deal with Ukraine. There was no evidence to support any of their alternative realties -- no witnesses, no documents that showed Trump had leaned on the Ukrainians to deal with actual corruption within their ranks or that he had taken any steps to address the issue of burden-sharing.

It was all bunk. Even after Gordon Sondland -- the hotelier who donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration and was rewarded with the ambassadorship to the European Union -- testified that there had indeed been a "quid pro quo," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of Trump's loudest and most reality-defying champions, shouted at a reporter (me): "No quid pro quo! No quid pro quo!" It was an unambiguous sign: Trumpers would never recognize any facts or evidence that showed Dear Leader had done anything wrong.

This was a dramatic contrast to the previous presidential impeachment. When Congress pondered what to do about President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky and his cover-up lies, there was no debate over what had occurred. Democrats did not argue there had been no blow job. They did not insist that Clinton had not lied. They accepted the evidence. They acknowledged the transgression. The question was what to do about all this. Was it impeachable?

But Trump's acolytes turned his impeachment into a battle over whether you could believe your own eyes. They would not concede the established facts. They echoed Trump's self-serving assessment that his call with Zelensky had been "beautiful" and "perfect." They railed about Deep State and Ukrainian plots against Trump. They deployed paranoia and diversion to protect their man.

This has been disturbing and unsettling to witness. The founders placed impeachment in the Constitution because they feared that one day a corrupt scoundrel might reach the presidency. But they did not envision that an entire political party might be his accomplice and defender.

Once impeachment moved to the Senate for the trial, the GOP's deny-reality virus infected that body as well. The president's legal team -- which included two men who had helped sexual criminal Jeffrey Epstein escape justice -- advanced the deflect/distract/divert strategy. Trump "did absolutely nothing wrong," they proclaimed. They staged a cavalcade of gaslighting. The man who launched the last presidential impeachment, Kenneth Starr, argued that impeachment was "hell" and ought to be avoided. The woman who, as Florida attorney general, killed an investigation of Trump after receiving a large campaign contribution from him, Pam Bondi, decried the supposed (and unsubstantiated) corruption of the Bidens. It seemed Trump's lawyers were engaged in trolling. They railed about the whistleblower, the Steele memos, Ukraine, and the House impeachment process. They threw whatever crap they could at the wall. The point was to confuse and confound.

Then, with the performance of Alan Dershowitz, the heavyweight on Trump's legal crew, they tied their mess of a case to the big idea that no president can be impeached unless he has committed a crime. Abuse of power is insufficient for booting a chief executive, Dershowitz claimed. That is, Trump could pardon the indicted Russian hackers who attacked the 2016 election, essentially encouraging them to help him once more in 2020, and Congress could not touch him. Trump's defense squad went from denying reality to denying the fundamental notion, crucial within a constitutional democracy, that the legislative branch can check a president who acts corruptly.

By and large, the GOP cheered. Most Republican senators, through their questions, demonstrated they were untroubled by the facts of the case. Indeed, many presented questions that highlighted the distractions and diversions so often showcased on Fox News. They had willingly put on blindfolds. A president muscling any foreign leader to investigate an American for the president's own political gain might be considered an abuse of power -- even without blocking military assistance to increase the pressure. But none of this seemed to bother many Republican senators. And much of the debate at the trial focused on the trial itself: Would there be witnesses? Process overwhelmed the detailing of Trump's skulduggery. That was a win for Trump and his happy-to-befuddle attorneys.

There was no desire on the part of the Republican senators, with a few exceptions, to obtain a better understanding of reality. Trump's lawyers and his supporters on Capitol Hill and within the media had long asserted there was no witness who had testified that he or she had heard Trump directly spell out the aid-for-investigations quid pro quo. Yet when the possibility emerged that a potential witness -- John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser -- could offer precisely such testimony, the Republicans yawned and said, never mind, no thank you. More facts were not needed. Don't undermine our distractions with actual information. Ignorance is best.

From the start of this investigation -- as they did with the Trump-Russia scandal -- Trump and the Republicans were hellbent to prevent the true narrative from taking hold. They have spent years doing all they can to make sure Trump's aiding and abetting of the Russian attack on the United States (which aimed to help elect Trump) did not become an accepted and fundamental element of that controversy. And they did the same with the Ukraine affair: The corruption that actually transpired could not be acknowledged, for then Trump and the Republicans might have to contend with consequence. Debate the facts -- define reality to your advantage, no matter how absurd it may seem -- and you might be able to escape accountability.

Sen. Lamar Alexander's impeachment two-step did pierce the GOP bubble. But few seemed to notice. On Thursday night, he announced he would not vote in favor of calling witnesses in the Senate trial. That was a blow to the House impeachment managers, who were still hoping to place Bolton and others, including Mulvaney, on the stand. Alexander's decision appeared to signal the rest of the proceedings would be pro forma and lead to the inevitable GOP-led vote to keep Trump in the White House. But Alexander noted that the House managers "proved" with "what they called a 'mountain of evidence'" that Trump had withheld aid, "at least in part," to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

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Private Citizen

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Gentlemen would rather watch young female strippers than Boy Bone Spurs before, during, and after the TRUMP BOWL. Thanks to English plumbers, most American homes have indoor plumbing, with one or more TRUMP BOWL(S). tu.be/GZRwI7m7gnw

Submitted on Sunday, Feb 2, 2020 at 3:11:56 PM

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Frank Inbun

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Sending weapons to the Ukraine is a deliberate provocation of Russia. Russia has not threatened the Ukraine. It would be like Russia sending weapons to anti American elements in Mexico. David Corn is a shill for the CIA. And we all know the CIA lies, cheats and steals and murders.

click here

Submitted on Sunday, Feb 2, 2020 at 7:28:51 PM

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David Rynkowski

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Reply to Frank Inbun:   New Content

Felt your final comment needed some editing: "And we all know the GOP lies, cheats and steals." The Republicans just can't wrap their heads around truth! The Republicans aren't upset that a law was broken, they are upset that someone reported it, and that someone got caught ....... And that tells you everything you need to know about the Republican party. This Republican party has become the greatest threat that American democracy has faced in my lifetime, (nearing 8 decades)

Submitted on Monday, Feb 3, 2020 at 6:10:32 PM

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Fred W

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I watched Friday's Real Time With Bill Maher which was devoted to the theme, "democracy is over in America", which is also the main idea of the slew of articles on OEN today with sources such as the RCP (ah! what memories!) and David Corn. But it's just the culmination of the Democrats thinking that they had found an issue that didn't reflect too much back on their own corruption and which they hoped might strike a patriotic chord with enough Republicans -- military procurements and the new cold war with Russia. Many Democrats, and, personally, many of my own liberal friends, expressed the hope that "finally, here was something we can pin on Trump and get to stick." Of course, a few of the more left had some misgivings about stirring up passions against Russia, but most fell in line with the program.

Just like Russiagate, which exonerated (yes, exonerated) Trump of collusion with Russia, this one has failed to stick, at least as far as the majority of the Senate is concerned. And their reason from the start, along with the Republicans in the House including a few Democrats, is that, whether there was some "quid pro quo" or not, Trump's actions didn't rise to some level they would call impeachable. Granted, they have some personal/political interests in arriving at that opinion, but then so do the Democrats and that's what makes it a partisan issue which seems now to be doomed.

So the fallback MSM and liberal position now is that this partisan impeachment which seems to have failed shows that "democracy is over in America", and I'm sure we haven't seen the last of them. My prayer is that we may have heard the last from Adam Schiff prattling about the need to arm our brave Ukrainian allies to the teeth "so we don't have to fight [the Russians] here" for a while, but I'm not counting on it.

Too bad Bernie can't spend tomorrow in Iowa, but he'll probably do all right anyway. I hope the Democrats can get beyond "getting Trump" and work on supporting our best alternative to the Republicans, who, remain, not traitors, nor fascists, nor coupists, but just Republicans, doing what they've been doing for generations, with a lot of help from Democrats.

Submitted on Sunday, Feb 2, 2020 at 9:52:37 PM

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John Rachel

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We can always count on Corn for dead-end political porn. Oh wow! The Republicans bad! Grrr! Boooo! Hiss!

What's he going to say when the results come in this November and he sees this has not just played well to much of the public, but combined with the utter incompetence and idiocy of the Democratic Party, has swept the Orange Buffoon into office for another 4 years?

Do guys like Corn get paid for this drivel?

Submitted on Sunday, Feb 2, 2020 at 10:51:33 PM

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Ronnie Roberts

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They all convicted themselves.

What a pathetic charade.

Submitted on Sunday, Feb 2, 2020 at 11:11:20 PM

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Lance Ciepiela

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Yes - #SecretBallot #Vote. Former Senator Jeff Flake caused a minor stir earlier this fall when he stated that "at least 35" Republican senators would vote to remove President Donald Trump from office - if they could do so in secret. Those 35 votes would almost certainly put the total tally well above the two-thirds mark required for an impeachment conviction.

Submitted on Monday, Feb 3, 2020 at 12:34:28 AM

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John Rachel

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Trump isn't Rapture enough for the Enlightened 35. The world need Pence in there as POTUS with Pompeo as VP. Let's get this Apocalypse Show on the road! Get your tickets while they last! Real Christians only need apply. The rest of you are barbecue for the Devil.

Submitted on Monday, Feb 3, 2020 at 3:09:17 AM

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Michael Dewey

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There are 45 days mentioned in Daniel 12:12 saying blessed are them who reach them, sort of. Just been wondering lately if it was some kind of code?

Submitted on Monday, Feb 3, 2020 at 4:58:22 AM

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Sorry you had to listen to Jim Jordan. There isn't

a more smug, arrogant politician than Jordan.

Submitted on Monday, Feb 3, 2020 at 1:21:21 AM

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