Wissot: When will Republicans admit Trump’s behavior is shameful?
We know that Donald Trump is shameless. Anybody who denigrates a deceased U.S. Senator and bonafide war hero, among many other examples of behavior never before tolerated in a president of the United States, clearly does not feel a smidgen of shame.
But what about the rest of his party? How many conservative judicial appointments and new manufacturing jobs does it take to justify the behavior of a man who clearly deplores any person and institution that criticizes or fails to favor him? That list includes the courts, the intelligence services, and journalists who have the audacity to challenge his version of the truth.
When Bill Clinton was impeached there was a general consensus that his lying to the public about engaging in tawdry sexual behavior in the White House was worthy of contempt.
His popularity as president along with a strong economy saved him from conviction and removal from office in the Senate. But it wasn’t open to debate that what he did was shameful and unbecoming a president of the United States.
Before Richard Nixon resigned from office he was warned by Republican leadership that there was enough votes in the House and Senate to both impeach and remove him from office.
He got the message and contritely bid his farewell. Forty-five years ago the American public supported the idea that lying about, covering up, and obstructing the investigation of a two-bit burglary was sufficient evidence of whatever was meant in the constitution regarding “high crimes and misdemeanors.“
Last week the Mueller report was released. As Joyce Vance, a former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, said on MSNBC soon afterward, the report shows that what Trump did was “lawful but awful.”
Trump was not found guilty of conspiring — collusion is not an actual legal term even though the president uses it ad nauseam — with the Russians to interfere with the 2016 election. But he wasn’t, contrary to the administration’s claim, exonerated from the charge of obstructing justice. Mueller simply felt it wasn’t worth a prolonged legal battle to challenge the justice department’s guidelines prohibiting the indictment of a sitting president.
I think drawing up articles of impeachment by the Democrat-controlled House would be a political mistake and, frankly, a waste of time. The Republican Senate is not interested in convicting him of any impeachment articles brought to their chamber.
Far better to continue the investigations begun in the various committees of the House, and bring to the public’s attention any findings related to Trump’s possible financial conflicts of interest with foreign governments and any evidence that he was compromised by being beholden in any way to Russian oligarchs who are interchangeable parts of the Russian government.
If such evidence is found I urge the Democrats to use it as an albatross to hang around Trump and the Republican Party’s necks in the 2020 election. If the House feels a moral obligation to condemn Trump’s actions, use the mechanism of a censure resolution which would easily pass in that chamber.
Forgetting for the moment whether Trump is or isn’t re-elected in 2020 (like we really can forget that), now is the last opportunity for the Republican Party to send a clear message to our president that although Republicans approve of his policies they can no longer tolerate his dragging the office of the presidency through the mud by acting like a spoiled adolescent.
The message should read: “Mr. President: If we sign on to your re-election we would like you to stop trashing our courts, our FBI, our press, poor African nations, immigrants who seek asylum (our laws give them that right), members of Congress you don’t like, disabled reporters, Gold Star parents, deceased war heroes, women you find unattractive, Mexicans (the ones who aren’t rapists and drug dealers, meaning almost all of them) and Muslims (the ones who aren’t terrorists, meaning almost all of them).
Knowing our president’s capacity for change, this is unlikely to happen. But if we can’t change his behavior, how about Republicans changing theirs? His base is oblivious to any criticism directed at him. That doesn’t, however, have to be true for leaders of the Republican Party, like you Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, who surely know that being president of the United States means at the very least avoiding shameful behavior unbecoming the leader of the free world. It would be nice if our junior senator, Cory Gardner, would be among the first to take the pledge.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.