Trump’s pardons again make a mockery of Republican claims that he ever cared about corruption

Remember how Republicans spent months insisting that Donald Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine not because he wanted to cheat on the 2020 elections but because he really, really cared about corruption? Even though he never mentioned corruption in his first phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky? Even though the Pentagon certified that Ukraine was fighting corruption and should get the money?

Ha ha ha, yeah, all those claims Republicans made, against all the evidence, that Trump cared about corruption, and what does he do? Well, first, during his own impeachment trial, Trump stood side by side with a world leader charged with corruption to unveil a major foreign policy plan. Now he’s handing out pardons and sentence commutations to a corrupt politician, a corrupt former law enforcement official, a corrupt lobbyist, and a couple corrupt rich guys. So let’s take a stroll down memory lane all the way back a month or two to hear from Republicans about how much Trump cares about corruption.

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“Corruption is not just prevalent in Ukraine. It’s the system. Our president said time out, time out, let’s check out this new guy,” according to Rep. Jim Jordan, during the impeachment inquiry.

”President Trump had good reason to be wary of Ukrainian election meddling against his campaign and of widespread corruption in that country,” said Rep. Devin Nunes.

“When it comes to sending US taxpayer money overseas, the president is focused on burden sharing and corruption,” Trump’s impeachment defense insisted.

Had Trump expressed serious concern about corruption anywhere before he turned his eyes to Ukraine? From Sen. Ron Johnson, “If the subject was Ukraine, he’s expressed his concern about corruption in Ukraine, which everybody understood was endemic―including [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelensky, who won. So I haven’t talked to the president about other countries where that might have come up.”

Again and again they told us that Trump cared so much about corruption that he held up nearly $400 million in aid that Congress had appropriated for Ukraine and that the Defense Department had signed off on because of Ukrainian anti-corruption efforts. And then Trump goes ahead and commutes the sentence former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got for trying to sell an open Senate seat to the highest bidder. He plans to pardon former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who committed perjury, tax fraud, and more. 

So it goes. Donald Trump cares about corruption like he cares about anyone not named Donald (or possibly Ivanka) Trump: only when it benefits him to claim he does.

Same House GOP that decried classified briefings boycotts public hearing as ‘publicity’ stunt

The idea that House Republicans were in any way compatible with a committee bearing the word "intelligence" in its name was always a stretch. Apparently, that reality has finally sunk in with the House GOP and its members sitting on the Intelligence Committee, who declared that they would boycott a public committee hearing Wednesday related to developing new methods of intelligence gathering. 

In a letter to House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff, Republican panel members accused Democrats of holding "publicity events" rather than conducting oversight. "Given this Committee's access to highly sensitive information, it is concerning that you prioritize publicity events rather than the more productive work that occurs in the Committee's classified spaces," wrote the panel's ranking member, Rep. Devin Nunes; the ranking member of the Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research Subcommittee, Rep. Chris Stewart; and the six other Republican members of the committee.

Those would be members of the very same GOP caucus that stormed a closed-door Intelligence Committee briefing last fall to review classified information related to the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. In fact, Rep. Stewart, who had opened the door that allowed a bunch of his unauthorized colleagues and cameras to enter the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), threatened that House Republicans would continue such stunts unless Schiff allowed more transparency. 

“We have written (Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.) a letter where we’re asking for him to quit restricting our ability to look at the transcripts and a number of other things,” Stewart said after about two dozen of his colleagues had marched through a door that said, “Restricted Area. No public or media access. Cameras or recording devices prohibited without proper authorization.”

But suddenly, the same Republicans who lobbied Schiff for more access and transparency now want to conduct all committee business in “classified spaces” where the “more productive work” happens. 

Really? Republicans fricking held a pizza party complete with cameras and recording devices in that secured area last fall in order to protest the "work that occurs in the committee’s classified spaces." Apparently, now that the impeachment inquiry is over, Republicans want to bury everything in the dark of night so the public will never know what's going on.

The subcommittee's chair, Democratic Rep. Jim Himes, bemoaned the tactics of his GOP counterparts during Wednesday’s hearing and apologized to the panel's witnesses for the lack of GOP participation, according to CNN

"Even as this committee was the epicenter of the polarizing impeachment debate, this committee has always succeeding compartmentalizing the emotions and arguments of impeachment from the critical work we do," Himes said. "Not so today, that Rubicon has been crossed."