As impeachment heats up, memes are hopping around cyberspace like bedbugs at Mar-a-Lago. A few, paraphrased:
“Trump and Republicans would have us believe people willing to testify under oath are liars, and those who refuse are truth-tellers.” Or: “If someone has information that would exonerate you, why would you prevent them from testifying?” Also: “The perpetrator of a coup takes power. If it’s really a coup, it’s Pence.” Best: “The house is on fire, Trump is lighting matches, and Republicans are demanding to know who called the fire department.”
On what basis can a “president” prevent people from appearing before Congress as it carries out its constitutional oversight duties? Would he have them arrested? Under the aegis of what laws? Can a “president” order a citizen not to speak? Isn’t there something about that in the Bill of Rights? (OK, under the Bill of Barr, we know it could happen.)
When Susan McDougal ignored a subpoena by Republicans chasing Bill Clinton’s penis around D.C., she went to jail. Why not now? Maybe because the party that no longer believes in enforcing the Constitution currently controls the DOJ. If Democrats ordered arrests, Barr would simply ignore them. What’s past is prologue.
Perhaps more than any event, impeachment exposes political hypocrisy. It also reveals the limited understanding voters have of why the process exists or how it works. That hypocrisy, mated with reinforced ignorance, is a powerful brew that too many people, particularly the Foxified, find pleasingly potable. Our pal Lindsey Graham has become the primary chef de cuisine. As the former prosecutor of the Senate trial of Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and much holier than we, he should know better. Which means whatever Trump has on him is more powerful than fairy dust.
To wit: When Gordon Sondland testified he knew of no attempted extortion, Republicans lauded him as the ender of the Democrats’ game. Subsequently, as others revealed how Sondland lied, and going to jail wasn’t what he thought he’d bought with his million-dollar investment in Trump, leading to “clarification,” Graham wondered “was there a connection” with Democrats. Figuring, one assumes, anyone telling the truth is either a Democrat or cahooting with them.
As if that piece of cogito-gymnasty wasn’t enough, Lindsey then stated, “I consider any impeachment in the House that doesn’t allow us to know who the whistleblower is to be invalid.” After such a bull-shot aimed at the selectively stupid, a reality-check is needed.
For reasons so obvious that enumeration is unnecessary, whistleblowers’ identities are protected by law. Moreover, by now it doesn’t matter who the whistleblower is: everything he or she reported has been corroborated, severally. So what do Republicans get from outing him/her? Intimidation of the next potential truth-teller, is what. It’s the horse-head in the bed. It’s how mobsters behave; people who’ll do whatever it takes to keep insiders from turning state’s evidence and upping their jig.
Same with crocodile tears about the pre-impeachment investigations. Like a grand jury, what’s done is assessing, securely, evidence of possible crimes. If convincing, the process becomes public. Which, for fairness to all parties, is exactly how it should work. Not investigating possible malfeasance by any president would be dereliction of Congress’s Constitutional duty.
If the House impeaches, the Senate becomes a jury, with House members as prosecutors. Evidence is presented, witnesses are called. The Senate convicts or doesn’t. Neither Lick-boot Lindsey nor any individual, including the “president,” gets to decide what invalidates the process. Only by Constitutional amendment could the system be changed.
To be clear: attempted extortion of a vulnerable country trying to defend itself against Trump’s pal and America’s enemy, Putin, successful or not, is a signal example of why impeachment is a constitutionally defined remedy. It’s also worth noting that what any Biden did or did not do is immaterial to whether the “president” did what he did. Nor does wising up at the last minute nullify the attempt. Failed bank robbers serve time, too.
Anyone who thinks Republicans are serious about truth must watch Devin Nunes’ opening statement at Wednesday’s public hearing. Calling it “unhinged” insults doorways everywhere. Short of massive public outrage — if that — nothing will force integrity on congressional Republicans. Virtually all have pre-excused Trump; Lindsey Graham says he doesn’t even need to see the evidence.
In codifying impeachment, our founders presumed congressional commitment to a purpose higher than themselves. Sadly, they didn’t foresee today’s elected Republicans.
Email Sid Schwab at email@example.com.