If Barack Obama had committed 1% of the unethical acts President Donald Trump has been accused of while serving in the White House, Rep. Liz Cheney would have called for his head on a stick and then paraded it down Pennsylvania Avenue.
But Wyoming’s congresswoman is ferocious in her defense of Trump, declaring that the president did nothing wrong and calling for Democrats who have launched an impeachment inquiry to be investigated instead.
“The Speaker [Nancy Pelosi] and House Democrats have lost all credibility and, most tragically, have abdicated their duty to the Constitution and to the American people,” Cheney charged in a statement.
That’s rich beyond imagination. We have a president who has already admitted contacting a foreign leader and asking him to dig up dirt on his chief political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Yet Cheney is blaming her own chamber’s leaders for further investigating what happened.
Wyoming’s Sen. Mike Enzi hasn’t weighed in on whether he thinks this vital issue is legitimate, noting simply through a spokesperson that he would be one of the jurors if House articles of impeachment land in the U.S. Senate. That’s an easy way out, though the retiring Enzi has nothing to lose at home if he dared to volunteer whether he thinks an investigation is necessary.
Uncharacteristically, Sen. John Barrasso hasn’t jumped in front of TV cameras to offer his support of Trump. But his office released this evaluation: “Democrats have been working to undermine President Donald Trump since day one. Now they are beating the impeachment drum and cranking up the outrage machine.
Indeed, there is growing outrage over Trump’s now infamous phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky — as there should be.
What we already know about the incident that prompted Rep. Pelosi (D-California) to launch the impeachment inquiry was supplied by the president himself, and it is damning. The official White House memo detailing the call shows that Trump — who a week earlier had frozen $400 million in congressionally approved aid to the Ukraine — leveraged the money as a bargaining chip.
When Zelensky said he wanted to buy U.S. missiles for his fight against Russia, the first words out of Trump’s mouth were, “I would like you to do us a favor though.” He asked the newly elected leader of Ukraine — who is dealing with the invasion of his country by Russia, the one nation Trump never fails to defend — to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter.
Trump then asked Zelensky to contact his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as well as Attorney General William Barr, for help.
Excuse me, but Giuliani often acts like he doesn’t have the skills or composure to fight a traffic ticket, much less represent the State Department, which certainly didn’t ask for his help. And what in the world is the U.S.’s chief law enforcement official doing in the middle of this mess?
Republicans like Cheney are repeating the White House’s talking points, countering that there was no explicit “quid pro quo” linking the foreign aid to Trump’s pushing for a Biden probe.
Has Cheney never watched “Law & Order?” Doesn’t she know that isn’t necessary to spell absolutely everything out to convict an attempted conspiracy?
“OK, Mack, you hide the body and I’ll give you an alibi for 50 grand. It’s called a ‘quid pro quo,’ see?”
It’s the context of Trump’s words that will ultimately lead to his political downfall. And by the end of the first week of the latest scandal to plague the president, there was mounting evidence, first revealed by a whistleblower, that administration officials had engaged in a cover-up to hide their boss’ call to Zelensky.
Except for a handful of Republicans in Congress who said they are “troubled” and “concerned” about Trump’s actions, the GOP side of the aisle has remained mostly silent.
Cheney is the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference and Barrasso is a Senate leader. Both need to actually lead by performing what the Constitution clearly says is their duty. It’s up to Congress to uphold the rule of law and ensure that any president, regardless of party, is held accountable for alleged treason, bribery and other high crimes or misdemeanors.
Trump and his businesses are currently the subject of 11 congressional investigations, including several relating to obstruction of justice and special counselor Robert Mueller’s probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election to help get Trump elected.
What prompted Pelosi to change her position from adamantly opposing an impeachment inquiry to instituting one was the overwhelming evidence of Trump’s lawlessness. The speaker rightly moved from trying to protect her caucus members who eked out wins in GOP districts during the “Blue Wave” of 2018 to pursuing impeachment. She put those partisan fears aside and did what was right for the country.
Instead of castigating Pelosi, Cheney and Barrasso could benefit from her example. But they both see the current fight in black-and-white, us-vs.-them terms. If Trump is impeached — which seems inevitable with a House Democratic majority on board for the inquiry — it might eventually help heal a nation reeling from Trump’s nearly 1,000 days of divisiveness.
Cheney charged that House Democrats are intent on overturning the votes of 63 million Americans who elected Trump. Of course, she didn’t mention the nearly 66 million who voted for Hillary Clinton.
Even before the House begins the investigation in earnest, public sentiment has already started shifting against the president in the Ukrainian scandal’s wake. Polls show support for Trump’s impeachment has already climbed to 55%.
I trust that some of the citizens who are changing their minds about Trump’s fitness for office live in the overwhelmingly red state of Wyoming. Now the local focus is on Cheney, who in the next few months will have to cast a vote on impeachment. Soon it will shift to Senate jurors Barrasso and Enzi.
Trump’s actions since Mueller’s report supposedly “cleared” him of any wrongdoing (the president’s words) have essentially dared Pelosi to impeach him. He reportedly thought it would be good politics by riling up his base for the 2020 election when the Senate acquits him.
Is Trump really daft enough to believe that being the third U.S. president in history to be impeached will be a political positive? I believe he is. It’s a miscalculation that should get him fired next year at the polls, if he’s still around. I think he’ll succumb to the inevitable pressure an embarrassed, scared GOP will put on him to resign before they lose the White House and the Senate.
The last president to do so, even before an impeachment vote was taken, was Richard Nixon. As the Watergate scandal was erupting in March 1973, White House counsel John Dean warned Nixon, “We have a cancer within — close to the presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily. It’s compounding.”
In October 2019, the same condition exists. The time to remove the disease before it spreads and destroys our democracy has arrived. It’s time to act, to display profiles of courage, not cowardice. Cheney, Barrasso and Enzi can still situate themselves on the right side of history, but time is running out.