Max Boot, writing this week for The Washington Post, makes an excellent point.
When the impeachment proceedings begin in the Senate, it will not be just Donald Trump in the dock. The entire Republican Party will be on trial. And there is every reason to believe that the GOP will fail this test — as it failed every other during the past four years.
As Boot emphasizes, Trump’s guilt here is crystal clear and becoming even clearer than that with each passing day. Boot notes the Center for Responsive Politics report revealing that Trump’s corrupt campaign funneled $2.7 million to groups that organized and participated in the violent insurrection. Many of the participants in the event itself have directly characterized their actions as a response to Trump’s siren call.
There’s no doubt that Trump is guilty of inciting the insurrection. As an added bonus, it’s also clear that he had exhausted all other means to overturn the election, even trying to force the attorney general’s office to involve the Justice Department in the coup attempt. Many witnesses may now be called to attest to Trump’s desperation, further providing evidence for his motives in inciting the Jan. 6 attack.
As Boot observes, we caught a fleeting glimpse, out of the corner of our eyes, of Republicans possibly, maybe, kind of considering doing the right thing and convicting this criminal president of the worst offense any president could possibly commit against this nation: willful insurrection.
But no, it was not to be. Because … they’ve all suddenly become Constitutional scholars!
To avoid having to defend Trump’s indefensible conduct, many Republicans are taking refuge in the argument that it’s unconstitutional to impeach a president who has already left office. This is simply untrue, as more than 150 legal scholars — including a co-founder of the Federalist Society! — point out. “In 1876,” they note, “Secretary of War William Belknap tried to avoid impeachment and its consequences by resigning minutes before the House voted on his impeachment. The House impeached him anyway, and the Senate concluded that it had the power to try, convict, and disqualify former officers.”
Never mind that this vast concern for the Constitution wasn’t on display during Trump’s first impeachment trial, or throughout his entire months-long effort to delegitimize a national election and disenfranchise 80 million Americans. Nothing unconstitutional to see there, I guess.
But there actually was something to see, after all. It was the sight of House and Senate Republicans doing absolutely nothing to stop that effort, and in fact aiding and abetting it through their votes to negate the verdict of the American people—though not in their own elections, mind you. In fact, there was a whole lot to see. And there’s a whole lot of complicity to explore.
We saw Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley raise his fist in support of the insurrectionists, practically egging them on, as long as he could ride the coattails. We saw Texas Sen. Ted Cruz lending his own voice to the treachery, along with 140 members of the House of Representatives.
These people not only supported this lie, they campaigned on it in their own elections. The rot runs right down into the state legislators who wanted to get in on the action. Local party organizations are supporting Trump’s insurrection efforts in state after state, from Wyoming to Arizona.
The GOP appears more eager for retribution against Republicans who upheld their oaths of office than against a president who violated it. All 10 of the House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are now facing a backlash at home, with local party organizations scolding them for disloyalty and primary challengers lining up against them. Pro-Trump House members are also demanding Cheney’s ouster as chair of the House Republican conference.
The cancer cuts down to the bone. It isn’t just Trump, but a culture of Republican-abetted sedition that needs to be presented to the American people on Feb. 8. Call some witnesses from those state legislatures who met with Trump as he hemmed, hawed and threatened them. Call Hawley as a witness and obtain all his contacts and communications with the administration before the insurrection. Same with Cruz. There’s no privilege attached, not when you’re trying to commit a crime, boys.
Americans really need to see the big picture. Let’s give it to them. And let Hawley and Cruz—and Trump—squeal their seditious little asses off.