Senate Republicans finally admit he did it (but it still doesn’t matter)

It feels like we’ve been divided for so long. But earlier this week I was heartened to learn that there is something that 73% of Americans agree on. Can you believe it? I decided to make a list: What can you get 73% of Americans to agree on these days?

  • Hating the Patriots
  • Whitney Houston’s Superbowl XXV National Anthem is the official version of the National Anthem
  • Rose could have made room for Jack
  • Going to any expense, at any degree of personal risk, to save Matt Damon
  • Wanting the Senate to call witnesses

Yes, believe it or not, that many Americans believe witnesses should testify in the Senate impeachment trial. (For those who don’t trust me, the 73% figure is an average of six different national polls. For those who still don’t trust me and want sources: Quinnipiac, 75; Monmouth, 80; Reuters, 72; CNN, 69; AP/NORC, 68; WaPo, 71.)

Yet as I write this, the Senate is preparing to vote on this very issue, and it’s looking like 73% of us are going to be disappointed. It would take four—just four—Republicans voting against the party and with the majority of Americans for us to hear from witnesses with firsthand evidence about the President’s intentions in the Ukraine scandal. You remember, the witnesses whom the President forbade to testify in the House hearings.

Let me note here that the Democrats really blew it in rushing the impeachment process. They should have dug in their heels and fought him all the way through the courts until they got to question every relevant witness. Yes, they proved their case without them, but it would have been easier for the average American to understand and harder for Republicans to muddy the waters if we’d all heard from those witnesses. (I hear you out there. Still don’t believe me that the House proved its case? Keep reading.)

But with potential swing voter Lamar Alexander (R, TN) announcing this morning that he will vote against hearing from witnesses, it’s all but assured that the motion will fail.

Why doesn’t the Senator want to hear from witnesses with firsthand testimony? His reason actually makes sense: He says it’s because the House has already proved its case. Trump did what he was accused of.

No, really.

In his own words, straight from Twitter: “I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven… the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine.

There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’

It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law… The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did.”

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, Senator Alexander’s admission that the President is guilty of the charges against him was followed by a big but: “But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.”

“Inappropriate” is how he categorizes withholding vital aid from an ally whose soldiers are fighting and dying due to aggression from Russia, in opposition to the official policy of his own administration, using shady criminal goons to shake down that ally’s president and smear our own ambassador, all to harm a fellow American citizen and help himself politically.

“Inappropriate” is telling an off-color joke at work. What Trump did was not in the same hemisphere as “inappropriate.”

Senator Marco Rubio, whom I admit at one time I badly wanted to become President, also weighed in today. He writes that in deciding whether or not to convict Trump, he worked from the assumption that he is guilty of Abuse of Power, and that he rejects White House counsel’s claim that Abuse of Power is not an impeachable offense. Yet he concluded, “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office.”

Amazing. Just amazing.

Take a walk with me down memory lane, will you?

There was no quid pro quo! The President did absolutely nothing wrong.

If you could prove there was a quid pro quo, that would be very disturbing.

Okay, maybe there was a quid pro quo, but there was no corrupt intent.

You know what, quid pro quos are fine; they’re actually great; we use them all the time. It never mattered at all and the President is innocent.

You may not like it, but the President has the right to investigate corruption.

Okay, if he held up aid to get an investigation into a political rival, that was inappropriate.

Okay, he did it. But Abuse of Power isn’t impeachable.

Well, it actually is, but it’s not worth convicting over.

My question for Senator Alexander, and for every Republican Senator and Representative is this: Were you lying when you told us he didn’t do it, or are you lying now? Now that we’re through pretending that the President did nothing wrong; now that you’re finished insisting that this whole thing was a Democrat sham; now that it’s clear you’ve been lying to us about everything from the beginning, why should we believe you now, when you tell us that he doesn’t deserve to be removed from the office he abused?

My question for my fellow voters is more important, because there’s at least a chance I might get an honest answer. Take another look at the above evolution of Republicans’ defenses. Which do you think is the more plausible explanation—not the explanation you want to be true, but the one that is most believable:

  1. They really believed everything they’ve said all along, and they really believe it’s the right thing to do to let him get away with this.
  2. There was never the slightest chance of them voting against Trump, and from the beginning they have said anything to justify that foregone decision.

I have compassion for them. I really do. They find themselves in an impossible position; especially those in swing states and districts. They can vote against corruption and abuse of power and infuriate the President’s base—about 25% of their electorate, which they virtually cannot win without. Or they can vote to protect him, and infuriate almost everyone else.

But my compassion has limits.

I’ve never voted for a Democrat. Not once. I’ve voted straight-ticket Republican in every election except 2016, when I wrote in a candidate for President. If you had told me four years ago that today I would feel more visceral anger and disgust toward the GOP than the Democrats, I would have told you you were lying like a Presidential candidate. But I do.

This party needs to be burned to the ground. The rot is so deep at the national level that I don’t see an alternative. Gut it. Excise the cancer. Pick a metaphor. Just vote them all out. Start over fresh with people who won’t sell their souls to stay in Congress.

I’m sure that 73% of us don’t agree on that conclusion. But don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m alone. Quite a few folks have reached out to me privately, sharing that they feel the same as I do about Trump, but can’t or won’t go public about it due to relationships or jobs that could suffer. I know that “quite a few folks” don’t amount to much, but I am just a nobody with a handful of readers. Extrapolate that handful across a country of 330 million people, and Republicans should begin to be very worried. #ILeftTheGOP was a trending topic on Twitter earlier this week. And it’s difficult to see how voting directly against the wishes of 73% of Americans won’t hurt Republicans come November.

If you’re tired of being lied to, if you’re sick of voting for people who think you’re stupid, if you’re feeling lost and homeless, come on over. I’ve saved you a spot by the campfire. Pull up a sleeping bag. We don’t bite, and the skies are so, so clear.

It’s getting less and less lonely here in the wilderness.

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