Throughout the House floor debate on Wednesday, before Donald Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, many Republican lawmakers claimed that this impeachment is a sham because it isn’t bipartisan.
No president should be impeached in a party-line vote, they yelled repeatedly during unhinged two-minute intervals at various points throughout the debate.
Here’s the thing: They’re right.
This impeachment process has been a partisan sham, but it’s not because of anything the Democrats have done. In fact, as this process has unfolded, Democratic leadership has bent over backward to be fair to Donald Trump.
They invited Trump to send counsel to represent him at impeachment hearings, and the White House declined. They asked administration officials to testify before Congress – something that could clear Trump’s name if he was so innocent – but the president ordered them not to. They subpoenaed documents, and the White House refused to turn over a single one.
Despite Republican temper tantrums about the process, Democrats have given the president endless attempts to prove his innocence. He’s refused every single time.
What that shows, as Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell pointed out earlier this week, isn’t just that Trump is guilty of the crimes alleged in the two House impeachment articles, but that he knows he is.
“If a baseball player refuses to take a drug test, MLB treats it as a positive result. Why? Only a player who’d test dirty would refuse a test,” Rep. Swalwell said in a Twitter post on Tuesday.
He added, “Why won’t [Donald Trump] send witnesses or documents to Congress? Because he’d test dirty.”
The Republican Party is betraying America
The combination of obstruction and ironclad evidence – the call transcript itself, Trump’s public admissions, and hours of credible testimony from career public servants – paints a clear picture of a guilty man.
In another era of American history, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle would leave their politics at the door and do the right thing for the country, regardless of how it would affect them in the next election.
But in this era of Republican politics – an era without shame, where right-wing media allows GOP lawmakers to live in a fact-free universe – duty to country no longer matters.
All that matters to Republicans is getting a favorable prime-time segment on Fox News for having spent an entire impeachment hearing shouting Hunter Biden’s name as many times as humanly possible, no matter how ridiculous they look outside the MAGA bubble.
All that matters is getting the president to retweet a clip of them spewing Russian talking points on the House floor or comparing his impeachment to the crucifixion of Jesus.
All that matters is making sure they don’t upset the 73-year-old toddler in the White House and all the red hat-wearing Americans he’s suckered into supporting him.
Everything else – the rule of law, American values, national security – is secondary.
So, yes, Republicans, this impeachment process has been a hyper-partisan sham – and that’s before we even get to Mitch McConnell’s Senate circus.
But it’s played out this way not because of some deep-state, Democratic witch hunt. No, it’s a partisan sham because the Republican Party has sold its soul to a man whose entire presidency was built on a publicity stunt gone wrong.
Now they’re in too deep to turn back – no matter how guilty they know he is.