As the impeachment process continues, Republicans are attempting to throw up roadblocks, make excuses and otherwise try to derail the proceedings.
They claim there was no quid pro quo. They insist that the process itself is flawed. They state that no first-hand accounts of the phone call exist. All of these excuses are nothing more than lame attempts to excuse the illegal act of asking a foreign power to dig up dirt on a political opponent for personal gain.
Looking at these defenses individually, they are easily defeated, but as a whole, they could present an out for impeachment.
So, what is the rationale behind them?
First, there is the claim that there was no quid pro quo. Republicans continue to insist that, because he didn’t say those exact words, it therefore doesn’t exist. They claim that since the Constitution doesn’t directly call this an impeachable offense, the actions were ill-advised, but not illegal. And there is Trump’s continued insistence that the phone call was “perfect”.
In response, Democrats have used the terms extortion and bribery to address the quid pro quo claims.
When Republicans attempted to alter their defense by claiming there was quid pro quo, but it wasn’t illegal, Trump immediately snapped back, insisting that Republicans continue to call the phone call “perfect”. While they struggled with this defense, they toed the party line, and reiterated their support of Trump rather than face his wrath via Twitter or otherwise.
At the heart of this conversation is Trump’s request that the Ukrainian president do a “favor” for Trump by looking into the issue of then Vice President Joe Biden’s son being employed by a Ukrainian company. There was also the added request that he look into a Russian initiated conspiracy theory that it was actually Ukraine that interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
These “requests” came at a time when much needed aid was being upheld, in essence extorting the Ukrainians to do as Trump demanded. Republicans counter that Ukraine got the aid without launching the requested investigations, so there could be no quid pro quo. They ignore the fact that the funds were only released when bipartisan backlash forced Trump to release the Congressionally approved aid package.
While Republicans flail in their defense, they also attack the impeachment process itself. They claim that closed-door interviews are not allowing them to see all the evidence, and so lacks the transparency needed for a fair hearing. Yet both the Nixon and Clinton impeachment hearings involved closed-door meetings. Indeed, the rules being followed by Democrats as they proceed were established by Republicans during the Clinton impeachment hearings.
Finally, there is the insistence that the witnesses had no first-hand knowledge of the incidents in question, and are therefore not reliable. Republicans totally ignore the fact that the White House refuses to allow witnesses with first-hand knowledge to testify. They are being instructed to ignore Congressional subpoenas and refuse to cooperate with the investigation.
Meanwhile, those who are testifying have been subjected to ad hominem attacks by right
wing media, while the whistleblower is being lambasted by Republicans Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Devin Nunes (R-CA), among others, for failing to appear at the hearings even though his or her claims have been substantiated by witness testimony.
This is nothing more than intimidation by Republicans.
And as if that intimidation wasn’t enough, Trump himself live-Tweeted incorrect information in an apparent attempt to upset former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was then testifying before the impeachment committee.
Will any of these tactics work? Will witness testimony change the minds of Republicans?
Only time will tell, yet we already have Republicans in the Senate who are refusing to read any witness testimony and continuing to attack the process. So even if Trump is impeached by the House, Senate Republicans are ramping up their efforts to ensure that this will not lead to his removal.
And the beat goes on.