GOP Cover for Trump’s Crimes Disguises the Real Story
Many believe GOP leaders are “spineless cowards” who don’t stand up to Trump. But what if that is a false premise?
Washington is run by polls. Billionaires like Tom Steyer discover soon enough that wealth is insufficient to guarantee success in a presidential race. Education, intellect, political experience, effective messaging, good looks, charisma, even wit, matter. Nowhere is the barometer of overall performance on the campaign trail better reflected than in the polls after each primary debate, as candidates travel through key states making stump speeches, shaking hands, and kissing babies. Political campaigns implode on such polls. Which is what makes the rabid Republican resistance to the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump, amid unequivocal evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” such a perplexing anomaly.
Trump’s approval rating has never risen above 46 percent. Record-setting gains to the economy, touted by his administration in mid-December, left 69 percent of Americans convinced that such gains benefit only the wealthy — and Trump’s approval rating at 45 percent. According to Gallup polls, Trump’s ratings have languished in the mid-30th percentile — the lowest of all presidents since the 1930s.
Few presidents have experienced Trump’s lackluster ratings:
- Richard Nixon at the height of his impeachment (24%)
- George W. Bush, whose deregulation policies created the 2008 global banking crisis (25%)
- George H.W. Bush, who initiated war with Saddam Hussein (25%)
- Jimmy Carter, who unsuccessfully negotiated the release of American hostages in Iran (28%)
- Harry Truman, who led the United States into the Korean War (22%)
Three of those five presidents — Nixon, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush — were Republicans, as is Trump.
Any shrewd, critical-thinking politician ultimately grasps the importance of distancing him- or herself from a political albatross. Not so the current GOP leadership. Trump ascended to “Supreme Leader” despite vehement opposition within their ranks, enough to fracture the party and instigate organized resistance.
Republicans for the Rule of Law now challenge dangerous Trump policies through ad campaigns that disseminate points of view that would otherwise be “jammed” in conservative echo chambers for Trump propaganda, like Fox News. Even as Trump’s impeachment trial unfolds, a truck emblazoned with their anti-Trump billboards circles D.C., targeting the Capitol. The Lincoln Project also assembled. Their stated aim is to “defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box,” even if it means victory for Democrats in the 2020 election. Interestingly, their advocacy is spearheaded by George Conway, conservative lawyer-husband of Trump’s propaganda pit bull, Kellyanne Conway, who famously described Trump’s administration as a “shitshow in a dumpster fire.” His associates include “Apostate GOP Media Guy” Rick Wilson, New York Times best-selling author of Everything Trump Touches Dies.
What remains of the GOP is not the Republican Party of old. Many believe GOP leaders are “spineless cowards” who don’t stand up to Trump. But what if that is a false premise?
In January 2019, I urged a closer look at this new Republican Party. I propounded that Trump is not really Republican — he’s an opportunist with his own agenda. Like a Venn diagram, there is overlap with the new GOP objectives, but their coalition exists only insofar as one assists the other’s endgame. In that endgame, only oligarchs win.
In her book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, Nancy MacLean, professor of history and public policy at Duke University, warned that what the new Republican Party is seeking are constitutional amendments so radical as to be called a constitutional revolution. Effectively, these would enshrine Republican policies at the federal level, ultimately restricting Democratic state governments. It wouldn’t matter which party is in power.
“Instead of a Constitution with checks and balances,” MacLean says, “what we would have is a Constitution of locks and bolts. While we have been distracted by Donald Trump’s tweets, the network that Koch is funding — groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC] — have been lining up authorizations for a constitutional convention. They now have 28 of the 34 authorizations needed to call the first ever Article 5 constitutional convention since our Constitution was crafted.” MacLean urges focus on GOP long-game strategy.
Koch brothers’ money and philosophy now infiltrate the federal government — in healthcare, education, housing, and climate change mitigation. Koch funding stealthily advocates for the abolition of the FBI, the CIA, public schools, and Social Security, reflective of Trump’s palpable contempt for America’s intelligence agencies and his administration’s commitment to the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” While hobnobbing with billionaires in Davos, Switzerland last week, Trump casually confirmed that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are on the chopping block, if he’s reelected. The cruel irony of that scene should drive the rest of us to the polls.
GOP loyalty to Trump — over fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, as currently written — is now on full display in the U.S. Senate at his impeachment trial. Gone is the separation of powers codified to protect critical checks and balances between the co-equal executive and legislative branches. Republican senators have been promised their heads “on a pike” if they vote against Trump. Sworn oaths be damned; they aren’t even pretending to be impartial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — of whom 60 percent of Americans disapprove — and the fork-tongued Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have said so publicly.
Exactly along partisan lines (53–47), Senate Republicans rejected the 11 amendments, presented by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, seeking permissions to subpoena new witnesses and documents germane to the trial. Voting on such issues has been deferred until both sides have made their case for and against impeachment — no guarantee.
A Reuters poll, conducted from Jan. 17–22, determined that 72 percent of Americans agreed that the trial “should allow witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify.” That number reflected 84 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans. The poll further determined that the public is following the Senate proceedings, even after months of contentious House inquiry. Therefore, one would think Republican senators should feel bound to represent the majority interests of their constituents. They do not.
What makes this kangaroo court so scandalous is that Simone Biles’ back handspring on a balance beam cannot rival the reversal of their political contempt for Trump since he was a presidential candidate. Frankly, that contempt should have grown.
Political diplomacy ended with Trump’s candidacy. Decency in political discourse is now passé. That Trump operates like a mafia kingpin, willing to publicly disparage or demand the “takeout” of opponents to his corruption, shocks the conscience. That roubles, Koch money, kompromat, or fear can buy illicit back-channel complicity to compromise the separation of powers elicits dismay. That it is even optional whether relevant witnesses and documents will be subpoenaed — while Trump boasts publicly about his likely acquittal, precisely because he has obstructed Congress in this regard — is corroboration that a sham trial is underway. That admittedly tainted GOP senators are allowed to sit as jurors while damning testimony from former National Security Advisor John Bolton and Lev Parnas — which support the articles of impeachment — may not be allowed is evidence that what we have before us is a farce.
If Trump was innocent of the charges against him — that he bribed a foreign government to dig up dirt on his political opponent, Joe Biden, in exchange for doling out already appropriated military aid as if it were personal philanthropy — wouldn’t he be demanding witnesses to corroborate his innocence? Wouldn’t Trump seize the opportunity to challenge the veracity of “hostile” witnesses before the American people?
Through an unprecedented record of 16,241 proven lies or misleading statements since taking office, what has become clear is that the truth about Trump may be far more sinister.
What other scandals lurk on that secret White House server, brought into focus by the whistleblower complaint that triggered the Ukraine investigation? Where are Trump’s unreported communications with Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia? Can the contents of that server shed light on Qatar’s “unwitting” $1.4 billion bailout of Jared Kushner’s family property at 666 Fifth Avenue? Can its contents clarify whether that deal was a shakedown, aided by Saudi Arabia? Can it illuminate why, with minimal oversight between Kushner and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), that bailout came closely on the heels of the Trump administration’s agreement to sell nuclear technology to the Saudis? Can the contents of that server resolve why Trump’s Justice Department would defy a federal court order under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by releasing 176 pages of notes from Robert Mueller’s interviews with key witnesses during his investigation into Russian election interference, yet conspicuously withhold those elicited from Kushner?
America, as we know it, is no longer safe in the hands of people who would look at the overwhelming irregularities and evidence against Trump and maintain that he’s done nothing wrong. Acquitting Trump sets a dangerous precedent for future presidents. That part of Trump’s defense strategy is to find a “fatal flaw” in the House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry process in order to acquit him on a technicality — not because he is innocent of the charges — is reckless.
None of what is unfolding is surprising to those who have studied the jaw-dropping antics of Trump’s administration over the past three years. To be “woke” in these political times is to be outraged by the treachery of a commander in chief with unquestionable commitment to advancing the interests of a geopolitical adversary — and personal aggrandizement — over American interests. To be woke is to be gutted by Trump’s public disloyalty to and disdain for American institutions and leadership that have earned worldwide respect. To be woke is to recognize Trump’s fascist propaganda tactics to create disinformation and silence the free press. To be woke is to be scandalized by those who would tolerate Trump’s pathological mendacity and psychological unfitness to be president. To be woke is to be enraged by Trump-whisperers in the Church like Paula White, who feed Trump’s messiah complex about being “the chosen one,” while refusing wise counsel from within their body. To be woke is to be utterly dismayed by willful acceptance of duplicity, indecency, and the immorality displayed by an extortionist and thug whom you would never leave alone with your children. But is being woke sufficient when 57 people in the Senate control our collective destiny?
This is the travesty of Donald Trump’s America. We have become a poster-child to the world that “a country is not just what it does — it is also what it tolerates.”