The House Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings today with an academic discussion from legal scholars of what constitutes an impeachable offense.
But the thugs in the Trump criminal enterprise that is the Party of Trump have other designs. Their goal is to disrupt, distract and discredit the impeachment hearings with their own obstruction of Congress by engaging in clownish buffoonery.
The Washington Post reports, ‘Bunch of brawlers’: Judiciary panel’s most aggressive members ready to rumble in impeachment probe:
When Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) gavels the room to order at 10 a.m., some of Capitol Hill’s most aggressive and colorful characters — Republicans and Democrats — will be seated on the dais, ready to inject new friction and hostility into the second phase of the inquiry.
There could be disruptions from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), the Fox News favorite who led a conservative revolt against impeachment in mid-October by storming the secure room where depositions were taking place.
There could be conspiracy theories from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), who nearly named the intelligence community whistleblower during a recent speech on the House floor.
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“It’s a bunch of brawlers sometimes on the Judiciary Committee, so it should get pretty hot under the collar as we go along,” said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the GOP House Freedom Caucus and a member of the panel, during an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Republicans believe [this] will offer them a chance to derail Wednesday’s hearing and are planning procedural roadblocks to throw at Nadler and his members, according to a GOP aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private party strategy.
In a joint op-ed for Fox News, Biggs and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania write “If we have learned anything in the last two weeks, it is the reality of the deep state, or swamp. Democrats have been relentlessly attacking President Trump since his election. They have been joined by the Washington establishment that includes much of the media, bureaucracy and the executive branch itself.”
Biggs and Perry pointedly attack Russian expert Ambassador Fiona Hill for calling out their Ukraine conspiracy theory as Russian-inspired propaganda, and shaming Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee for repeating this Russian propaganda ad nauseam. To paraphrase the classic Dr. Pepper ad, their response is “It does exist!”
Biggs and Perry are not bothered that Trump set up a shadow foreign policy operation under the direction of his personal
attorney “fixer,” Rudy Giuliani, and carried out by the self-proclaimed “three amigos,” Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, as well as Giuliani’s now indicted henchmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Their op-ed drips with condescension and disdain for the career State Department employees who have dedicated their lives in service to this country, often at risk of their own life in difficult if not dangerous assignments.
They conclude that Trump “haters” are “continuing to undermine him using those entrenched in government to perpetuate their coup against this president.”
This pair of asshats apparently do not know the meaning of a coup d’état. Impeachment, by contrast, is the constitutionally prescribed remedy for an executive who has “violat[ed] his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed…” (Nixon Articles of Impeachment).
There is not a patriot among them. These are GOP tribalist partisans and cult members of the personality cult of Donald Trump who put loyalty to their “Dear Leader” over loyalty to their country and oaths of office to preserve the Constitution, U.S. national security, and the legitimacy of our democratic election process. These “Rootin’ for Putin” Republicans are all-in on propagating the debunked Russian-inspired conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, Not enough Pinocchios for Trump’s CrowdStrike obsession, and smearing Joe Biden with unfounded accusations, GOP tries to connect dots on Biden and Ukraine, but comes up short.
As Max Boot says, The Republicans have become the party of Russia. This makes me sick.
John Stoehr at Editorial Board wonders aloud, When Does Ordinary Republican Partisanship Turn into Treason?
It bears repeating.
Donald Trump was not only press-ganging Volodymyr Zelensky in an illegal scheme for partisan gain. He was rewriting the history of 2016 in order to wound enemies (Democrats) and help friends (Vladimir Putin)—as well as to give Kremlin operatives room to strike again. It is in no way overstating it to say the president of the United States is the head of an international conspiracy to defraud the American people.
It has remained to be seen how far the Republican Party is willing to go in defense of Trump’s conspiracy. Senate Republicans quickly conceded that Russia sabotaged Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, but stopped short of saying the president benefited (because admitting that would be admitting Trump is an illegitimate president).
But now, as the impeachment process enters a new and dangerous phase, we are seeing new GOP behavior (though we have witnessed plenty of hinting). David Drucker, a superlative reporter, wrote today Republicans decided the best way to defend Trump is to embrace “the claim of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.”
Let’s be clear. There was no Ukrainian interference. That’s according to the special counsel’s report, which cited one and a half dozen national security agencies. That’s according to the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report. That’s according to every career official in the State Department who testified under oath last month.
The idea that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked the US originated in the Kremlin. The idea that the Democrats, not Trump’s campaign staffers, conspired with foreign operatives is more than “conspiracy theory.” It is a fascist ploy to turn lies into truth. This is why I said recently Trump’s crime is so much worse than abuse of power. It’s treason.
And the Republicans, like lemmings, are heading for that cliff.
Now, it’s one thing to follow the party wherever it goes. Ordinary partisan activity, however vile, isn’t something I care to debate now. It’s quite another thing, however, to know what you’re doing is wrong and do it anyway. The Republicans can’t not know.
First, because intelligence officials briefed Senate Republicans, telling them explicitly the Ukraine-attacked-us story is pure Putin propaganda. Second, because Fiona Hill, a former member of the White House National Security Council, and a Russia authority, was crystal clear about what House Republicans were already doing. [Reps. Biggs and Perry specifically attacked Ambassador Hill in their op-ed.] She said:
In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests. I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary, and that Ukraine—not Russia—attacked us in 2016 (my italics).
And now we have another reason why the Republicans can’t not know they are participating in conspiracy to defraud the American people. Rudy Giuliani, who is not regarded for his discretion, confessed to knowing the Ukraine-attacked-us story was bunk. Not only that, the president’s personal attorney actually said he decided to pursue “evidence” of Ukraine’s attack in order to undercut Robert Mueller’s report.
I knew they were hot and heavy on this Russian collusion thing, even though I knew 100 percent that it was false. I said to myself, ‘Hallelujah.’ I’ve got what a defense lawyer always wants: I can go prove someone else committed this crime.”
So: to defend Trump is to defend Russia.
Is that where the Republicans want to go?
Well, yes, if [“Rootin’ for Putin”] Tucker Carlson is any indication. The Fox News host is on the bleeding edge of attempts by Trump partisans to expand what the American people think is acceptable behavior. On his show last night, he said: “I’m totally opposed to these [US] sanctions [on Russia] and I don’t think we should be at war with Russia and I think we should take the side of Russia if we have to choose between Russia and Ukraine.”
He went on to say the Democrats hate America more than Vladimir Putin does.
I think it’s fair for some conservative writers, like Charlie Sykes and Matt Lewis, to characterize the Republicans as dupes and stooges or parroting the Kremlin line. But at some point, we must face what it means for Republicans to know the truth but to advance Kremlin lies anyway, even when doing so slowly burns down the Republic. At some point soon, we must stop them calling dupes, and start calling them the enemy.
The GOP was once the Party of Lincoln, long before its recent hostile takeover by the Party of Trump. Abraham Lincoln warned in his Lyceum Address:
At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? — Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! — All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
Lincoln could not conceive that an American would ever conspire with a hostile foreign adversary to obtain the presidency, and then turn his political party into an asset of that hostile foreign adversary, opposed to democracy and the Constitution they all took an oath to defend and uphold. Donald Trump has changed that.