It’s a trial but not really a trial, for a president who’s no longer a president, featuring a political party no longer willing to defend democracy itself.
Welcome to governance by cult.
As the impeachment case against our disgraced former commander in chief heads to the U.S. Senate today, Donald J. Trump’s Republican enablers have signaled their clear intentions to acquit. Not even sedition, treachery and a deadly insurrection are enough to sway the GOP to do what’s right.
Saturday the Associated Press asked, “Will Trump be convicted?” concluding:
“It’s unlikely. While many Republicans were harshly critical of Trump for telling supporters to ‘fight like hell’ and go to the Capitol, their criticism has since softened.
“The shift was evident during a Jan. 26 test vote. Only five Republican senators voted against a motion that was aimed at dismissing the trial.”
In defending Trump, Republican senators will disregard the evidence in favor of legal gymnastics, arguing that impeaching a president once he’s out of office is unconstitutional. This, of course, ignores the fact that the impeachment occurred while Trump was still in power.
This has been the Republican rallying cry since at least 2016 and in all matters Trumpian. Through more than four years of utter grift and corruption, of obstruction of Congress and of justice, of more than 30,000 lies, the GOP has looked the other way, preferring Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts.”
Trump rewarded their acquiescence with a big tax cut for the rich and the federal bench of their dreams. Never mind that many of Trump’s judicial appointments couldn’t pass muster with the American Bar Association.
Having their wish list fulfilled, the GOP nonetheless continues in its mindless fealty toward its former leader, whose single term in office cost Republicans the White House and both branches of Congress. Why? Fear.
Trump continues to hold sway with a majority of right-wing voters. Many Republican politicians would love nothing more than to convict him and then, in a separate action, prevent him from seeking office ever again. If they cross him, though, he has threatened to splinter the GOP off into two separate factions.
Trump has been musing about launching the “Patriot Party,” whose immediate effect would be to threaten Republican office holders from sea to shining sea. This from the guy who incited his followers to invade the seat of government itself.
Not even a Hollywood scriptwriter could sell such nonsense. It remains to be seen whether the former president could. In a tweet Friday, actor and film director Rob Reiner implored Republicans to convict.
In all likelihood, their slog will carry on.
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