“If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed… and we will deserve it.” — Sen. Lindsay Graham, 2016.
The Republicans are right—impeachment should be a bipartisan endeavor.
Congressional Republicans have been expressing legitimate concerns about the lack of bipartisanship in the House impeachment proceedings, handily quoting Nancy Pelosi’s admonishment from the Clinton presidency that an impeachment effort should be supported by members of both parties.
But the lack of bipartisan support for Donald Trump’s impeachment is not attributable to a weak Democratic case against the president. The evidence of abuse and obstruction is abundantly clear: Trump unabashedly invited foreign countries to interfere in our political process; he has intimidated and threatened witnesses; and he has obstructed Congress by commanding his surrogates to defy subpoenas. These behaviors are far graver than the impeachable conduct of either Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon.
So, where is the bipartisan support for this overwhelming indictment of a corrupt president who has egregiously violated his oath of office? To find the answer, one might need to travel back in time a few years. During the 2016 Republican primary campaign, many conservative leaders spoke openly and passionately about Trump’s unfitness to be commander in chief, rightly predicting the abuses of power we have seen unfold since he took office.
Mitt Romney called out then-candidate Trump for his “bullying, greed and misogyny.” Likewise, Graham had plenty of unsavory labels for Mr. Trump: “opportunist,” “dangerous,” “stupid” and “offensive.” Sen. Marco Rubio called Trump’s candidacy a “frightening, grotesque and disturbing development in American politics.” And Sen. Ben Sasse rightly predicted that Trump wouldn’t “take the oath of office seriously,” specifically with regard to “executive restraint.” These Republican senators knew from the outset that Trump was grossly unfit for the presidency. But their silence over the past three years has allowed their worst fears about Trump to come true.
With the Senate impeachment trial looming, it is now the responsibility of these Republican leaders to heed their initial instincts and join their Democratic counterparts in a unified effort to remove this “dangerous” man from office and restore dignity to our 240-year-old republic.
Sen. Romney, you have a proud legacy of integrity and respect; surely you can do more than reluctantly countenance the behavior of a president you know to be “a con man and a fake”?
Sen. Cruz, this man called your wife a “dog” and spread inflammatory lies about your father; will you choose to defend him now, as he hurls insults at patriotic servicemen and women?
Sens. Rubio, Sasse, Collins and Murkowski: Do you really want to continue catering to the whim of a man who lies constantly and intimidates all who dare to question him?
And to the other 48 Republican senators: Do you intend to continue allowing your party to be led by a man who belittles war heroes, cozies up to dictators, has affairs with porn stars and brags about sexual assault?
Senators, your reluctance to speak out has been understandable; you have been bullied into submission. Anyone who has been a victim of bullying knows how hard it can be to overcome. But this is a matter of conscience, and you are at a crossroads. You are being given an opportunity to call out this bully, in the name of the U.S. Constitution, and hold him accountable for his manipulative and destructive ways. If you choose to take the honorable stand of voting for Trump’s removal, you will have the support of not just the majority of Americans who already believe removal is justified, but also of many others who will surely breathe a collective sigh of relief once Trump is history and a sense of normalcy and dignity is restored to our democracy.
Republican senators, the power rests with you. In 2016, you knew exactly what sort of horrors Donald Trump would bring to the presidency. It’s time now to heed your original instincts, and give this impeachment the dose of bipartisanship it deserves.