‘Embarrassing,’ ‘stupid’: Republicans blast national party as if it bears no relation to them

Senate Republicans have finally located their problem, and it's the Republican National Committee. After the RNC last week endorsed the Jan. 6 insurrection as "legitimate political discourse," many congressional Republicans are pretending like the national Republican Party bears no relationship to them.

"I'm not a member of the RNC," Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said Sunday when asked whether GOP Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois deserved to be censured by the RNC for participating in the Jan. 6 probe. Within the text of that censure resolution, the RNC endorsed the violent Jan. 6 assault that resulted in death and destruction as "legitimate political discourse."

"It could not have been a more inappropriate message," said Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the uncle of RNC chair Ronna McDaniel. Romney said he had texted with McDaniel after passage of the resolution and described her to CNN as a "wonderful person and doing her very best." But as for the resolution, Romney added, "Anything that my party does that comes across as being stupid is not going to help us."

Stupid is apt—but let's not limit the moniker to McDaniel and the national party alone. Republicans, eyeing an election cycle that should absolutely favor them based on historical trends, had the chance to bury Donald Trump last year during his second impeachment trial and leave much of his political baggage in the rearview mirror. Instead, they breathed new life into him, and now they're pretending like the RNC is solely responsible for his drag on the party.

The RNC censure resolution came at the end of a week that was kicked off by Trump dangling pardons for Jan. 6 convicts during a Texas rally the weekend before. Trump then called on Congress to investigate his former vice president, Mike Pence, for failing to unilaterally "overturn" a free and fair 2020 election.

But the RNC's endorsement of the Jan. 6 violence was just the latest in a years-long parade of Republican efforts to appease and coddle Trump. He has continually demanded absolute fealty from Republicans every step of the way, and they have acquiesced time and time again. With its censure resolution, the RNC was once again mollifying Trump by pursuing his political vendetta against Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger, both of whom voted to impeach him for inciting the Jan. 6 attack.

Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina, also one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, told CNN the House GOP caucus avoided the topic of the censure altogether in its conference meeting Tuesday, suggesting the whole episode was just too cringey to touch.

“It was pretty damn embarrassing,” Rice said.

But Senate Republicans are especially prickly on the matter, particularly those who had a chance to impeach Trump for inciting the attack on the U.S. government and explicitly declined to take it.

"It's just not a constructive move, when you're trying to win elections and take on Democrats, to take on Republicans," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, as if no one could have imagined Trump would inspire internecine mayhem when he voted to let him off the hook for Jan. 6.

Asked if McDaniel should step aside, Thune pretended the RNC had nothing whatsoever to do with congressional Republicans. "Oh, I don't know. Ultimately, it will be up to the RNC," he said of McDaniel's fate.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina rolled out the same talking point Senate Republicans have been parroting every time Trump pulls them into some new controversy—2022 is all about the future for Republicans, folks.

"I think all of us up here want to talk about forward and not backward," Graham said. "We want to talk about why we should be in charge of the House and the Senate, and when you're not talking about that, that takes you in the wrong direction."

And by talking about why Republicans should be in charge, Graham means deliberately not releasing a 2022 agenda so voters will have exactly no idea what Republicans plan to do if they retake control of the upper chamber.

The frustration among most Republicans was palpable.

"I think the RNC should be focused on electing Republicans," said Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Even House Republicans, led by Trump hack Kevin McCarthy, sought to distance themselves from the RNC's unforced error.

Asked about the RNC resolution, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise told CNN, "My focus has been on what we need to do to take back the House."

The House GOP campaign chief, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, added, "We're focused on winning the majority next fall."

It wasn't exactly a full-throated stand for American democracy, but hey, Republicans want control of Congress so they can end this scurrilous investigation into the worst homegrown attack on the Capitol in U.S. history.

"We ought to capture the Jan. 6 committee and convert it to our purposes: pursuing the extent to which federal involvement might have animated violence," Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, floating a totally unsubstantiated right-wing conspiracy theory.

To be fair, some Republicans did join the RNC in defending the insurrectionists.

"There's no doubt that there were tens of thousands of people engaged in peaceful free speech that the press and Democrats try to demonize falsely," said Sen. Ted Cruz, who voted against certification.

Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who also voted to throw the election, called the Jan. 6 panel "illegitimate," presumably while pumping his fist.

"They're not following their own rules. And I think, frankly, it's, it harkens back to the House Committee on un-American affairs," said Hawley, engaging the "un-American" topic on which Republicans have become bonafide experts.

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, firmly ensconced in his disreality bubble, couldn't dig out of his conspiracy rabbit hole long enough to take note of the RNC aligning itself with Jan. 6 terrorists.

"I did not pay any attention to that," said Johnson, who's up for reelection this year.

But Johnson was upstaged by House GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who coughed up an entirely fictional explanation of the RNC's resolution.

“What they were talking about is the six RNC members who Jan 6th has subpoenaed, who weren't even here, who were in Florida that day," McCarthy said—something that was never even mentioned in the censure resolution.

Asked McCarthy about “legitimate political discourse.” “What they were talking about is the six RNC members who Jan 6th has subpoenaed, who weren't even here, who were in Florida that day." He says those who caused damage “should be in jail.” (RNC resolution doesn’t mention that) pic.twitter.com/k4qsLWAOv5

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 8, 2022

McConnell’s vote against allowing impeachment trial shows once again how he’s manipulating the media

Senate Republicans once again showed the limits of their willingness to hold Donald Trump accountable for his actions. Those limits include the occasional disapproving statement, but emphatically do not include following through when he’s impeached. Just five Republicans voted to even allow the impeachment trial to go forward when Sen. Rand Paul tried to block it on the grounds that Trump is already out of office.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had used leaks that he might vote for conviction to con the traditional media into portraying him as a fair broker, was not one of those five Republican votes. Sen. Rob Portman, who likes to be seen as a reasonable guy who’d consider bipartisan action and who doesn’t have to worry about a primary because he’s retiring, was not one of those five Republican votes.

Nope, the only Republicans who were even open to hearing the evidence on Donald Trump inciting an insurrection that physically threatened all of them were Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey. Murkowski and Romney probably meant it, Collins and Sasse knew that the time had come when they had to do something do justify continuing coverage of their supposed distaste for Trumpism, and Toomey is retiring.

Here’s the really perfect, chef’s kiss part of McConnell voting against a retroactive impeachment trial: Two weeks ago, when he was still majority leader and Trump was still in office, McConnell refused to reconvene the Senate for a trial. But at the same time, he leaked that he might maybe vote to convict, getting the Very Serious Reasonable Person headlines he was seeking. Now McConnell turns around and votes against holding a retroactive trial that is only retroactive because of him.

I’d say, “Do they not think we’re going to notice what they’re doing?” Except that McConnell has the measure of the traditional media, most of which will absolutely allow itself to get played in this way. To really oomph up the level of “Are you kidding me?” involved here, Republicans decided to hear from their go-to constitutional law scholar, Jonathan Turley, about how retroactive trials are no good … even though in 1999 he strongly endorsed retroactive trials

The next level of Republican procedural objection will be because Chief Justice John Roberts isn't presiding over the trial, which was 100% his decision and apparently didn’t come with any indication that he is opting out because he considers the trial illegitimate. But Sen. Patrick Leahy, the most senior Democrat in the chamber, will be presiding, which Republicans will use to suggest it’s a partisan event even though Leahy is scrupulously fair, frequently to a self-owning extent.

It remains possible that evidence of Trump’s incitement of insurrection will emerge that’s so strong that not even most Republicans can ignore it. But in the absence of that, consider the wagons fully circled around Trump, and don’t be surprised by it.

Watch Florida Republican try to explain why he thinks Trump impeachment trial is ‘stupid’

Appearing on Fox News Sunday to chat with host Chris Wallace, Sen. Marco Rubio delved into his feelings on former President Donald Trump. What about Trump, specifically? Oh, just the articles of impeachment against him. In a word, Rubio said he finds the trial “stupid.”

In a very slightly more eloquent attempt to express himself, Rubio said he feels, “We already have a flaming fire in this country,” and that a trial would amount to “a bunch of gasoline.” Basically, just another way of arguing that a trial would rupture unity efforts, even though as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued last week, ignoring all that’s gone is actually what is more likely to sow division in the country. Why? Because we need accountability. 

As of Sunday morning, at least one Republican sees the impeachment trial differently than Rubio, however. We can check out more of what Rubio said below, as well as what one of his peers in the Senate argued.

Rubio said he does think Trump “bears responsibility for some of what happened” and that it was “certainly a foreseeable consequence of everything that was going on.” It would be fascinating to hear what Rubio qualifies as “some” of what happened when a group of pro-Trump rioters surged into the U.S. Capitol and effectively terrorized elected officials. Rubio, instead, stressed he thinks that is “separate” from the idea of revisiting it and “stirring” it up. 

Here’s that clip.

Marco Rubio acknowledges Trump "bears responsibility" for the Capitol insurrection, but insists holding him accountable with an impeachment trial is the wrong move because it'll "stir up" the country again pic.twitter.com/egtvNAgrS8

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 24, 2021

Also related to the Trump family, Wallace asked Rubio how he feels about whispers that Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, may run for a senate seat in Florida. Given that Rubio is up for reelection in 2022, a primary challenge is considerably important. Rubio, however, dodged the meat of the question by declaring that he doesn't “really get into the parlor games of Washington.”

He did say that if he wants to be “back in the U.S Senate, I have to earn that every six years” and that he doesn’t own his seat. Which is true, but would ring as a touch more meaningful if Florida didn’t have rampant voter suppression issues. 

Wallace also spoke to Sen. Mitt Romney about the impeachment trial, posing the same question to both Republicans. Did they agree with fellow Republicans who argued that the trial should be thrown out under the alleged basis that it’s unconstitutional to convict a former president? Rubio said yes, he’d definitely vote to nix the trial, but Romney thinks the proceedings are constitutionally solid. (Which, of course, they are.)

“if you look at the preponderance of the legal opinion by scholars over the years,” Romney explained, “the preponderance of opinion is that yes, an impeachment trial is appropriate after someone leaves office.” Romney, who did vote to convict in the first trial, however, did not say how he would vote either way a second time, noting they have yet to actually hear arguments and evidence from both sides. 

Republicans claiming they want the party to break with Trump can start by removing him from office

Following Donald Trump's attempt to violently overthrow the U.S. government, Republicans have quickly retreated into two camps: Those who have had the sudden epiphany that they must break with Trump to save the party and those who are clinging to him like a life vest to buoy the party’s future.

Make no mistake, they have all been complicit in building Trump and his rabid base into the monster that has swallowed the party whole. Decades of GOP lawmakers carefully nurturing the ignorance of their followers left GOP voters uniquely susceptible to the manipulation of a buffoonish yet dangerous conspiratorial carnival barker like Trump. He is the pinnacle of their creation—able to say and do absolutely anything with impunity to the mindless acceptance and adoration of the Republican base.

The Republican lawmakers who want to stay the course even after Trump's shameful betrayal of the country this week are an irredeemable stain on the conscience of America. That's particularly true for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who eagerly supported a lawsuit backing Trump's fraudulent challenge to the election results, voted to object to certification of those results even after Trump's insurrectionists terrorized the Capitol complex, and then issued a statement Friday saying impeachment would "only divide our country"—never mind the fact that Trump poses an existential threat to the republic. McCarthy and his ilk helped plant the seeds of fascism Trump has supercharged, and they very obviously would gladly disenfranchise the American people to cement their enduring power if that opportunity were to materialize. 

But for those who now claim they want to break with Trump and indeed must do so in order to save the party, they can all start by telling the truth to their constituents—that Trump bamboozled his supporters, betrayed his oath of office, and must be removed from office immediately. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah at least got the truth part of that equation right when he spoke from the Senate floor on Wednesday following the melee. "The best way we can show respect for the voters who were upset [by the election results] is by telling them the truth," Romney said.

The Republicans who now seem eager to leave Trump in the rear view mirror vary between people like Romney, who has at least repeatedly criticized Trump and even voted against clearing him of impeachment charges, to squishy opportunists like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has consistently stoked Trump fervor over the years. Rubio, who unequivocally celebrated the caravan of Trumpers that forced a Biden campaign bus off a Texas highway in November, has now lamented the siege at the Capitol as a "national embarrassment" and told GOP voters that "some misled you" about the Vice President's ability to reject certification. 

Somewhere in between there's someone like Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the GOP leadership that has done everything in its power to coddle Trump while capitalizing on his populist appeal. 

“What happened in Georgia, what happened today are all indicative that we have to chart a course,” Thune told the New York Times. “I think our identity for the past several years was built around an individual, we got to get back to where it’s built on a set of principles and ideas and policies.” Whatever Thune’s motivations, his diagnosis of the problem is at least somewhat clear eyed. 

But if any of those Republicans are serious about redeeming and reclaiming their party at any level, they must start by making an unmistakable break with their past. That seems unlikely as only one GOP senator (Senator tally here) has expressed an openness to considering the removal of Trump: Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Even Romney advised Americans to just "hold our breath for the next 20 days" until Biden is sworn in rather than invoke the 25th Amendment. Sorry, but that's not going to cut it. It won't save the Republican Party and it certainly won't save the country from the party, which is now little more than a haven for radical extremists awaiting an opportunity to mount a violent coup.

In fact, just look at where the GOP rank and file in the states are. State party chairs, thrilled with the post-election results of their down-ballot candidates, have said they don’t want to change a thing about the Trumpist direction of their party despite Trump's failure at the top of the ticket.

“As far as I’m concerned, everything’s great,” Stanley Grot, a district-level Republican Party chair in Michigan, said last month even after Trump lost the state by some 150,000 votes.

On Thursday, Trump was reportedly "greeted with applause when he dialed into a breakfast at the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee." On Friday, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel betrayed not even a hint of remorse or reflection about Trump’s insurrection when she enthusiastically told the gathering, "Democrats, get ready. Buckle your seatbelts, because we are coming."

If any congressional Republicans truly believe it's time for a different course, they are going to have to take decisive action. These weak whiffs of passive resistance nearly all of them are currently offering are a pathetic mismatch for the present political moment. One would think they might have learned a little something after spending four years registering their discontent by whispering to each other in the cloistered recesses of the Congress. 

And if they're not concerned enough about the preservation of the country to take a stand, they may want to think about the fact that if the pitchforks come the next time, they won't be coming for Democrats alone. Just ask Vice President Mike Pence.

Republicans can’t quit Trump and it’s tearing their party apart

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell's Faustian bargain with Donald Trump is backfiring in spectacular fashion as his Senate caucus descends into bitter internecine warfare over whether to back Trump's seditious effort to overturn the presidential election results.

That intra-party battle spilling into public view is how Republicans kicked off the 117th Congress. As House Democrats narrowly reelected Nancy Pelosi as Speaker Sunday, McConnell lost grip on the caucus he had marshaled nearly a year earlier to clear Trump of impeachment charges against the backdrop of a mountain of evidence Senate Republicans ultimately dismissed without hearing from a single witness. That blind fealty helped assure Trump that no matter what action he took—however reckless, illegal, or traitorous—he would never pay a price for it. And so when Trump lost the presidential election, he decided yet again that making a bid to steal it would be both perfectly in order and without consequence.

So McConnell and congressional Republicans once again stood by Trump for over a month, declaring repeatedly that he had every right to try to overturn the results of an election that was secure, fair, and devoid of fraud. The longer Trump's baseless effort continued, the more bogus it was shown to be through a series of endless losses in both state and federal courtrooms. But when states across the nation finally certified their results rendering Trump the loser, McConnell figured he could just flip the switch, reluctantly embrace the results, and leave Trump in the rearview mirror. 

Not so fast. The monster McConnell nurtured over the last four years with the help of his fellow Republicans has turned on him. Despite his repeated pleas for Senate Republicans to leave Trump for dead when Congress certifies the election results in a joint session Wednesday, the lure of personal ambition proved too powerful for the greater good of the GOP caucus. After Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri announced with the gleam of 2024 in his eyes that he would challenge the results during certification, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas suddenly wanted a piece of the action too. Now about a dozen Senate Republicans—all hoping to ingratiate themselves with Trump's cultists to boost their own political star—have jumped on board the Trump's sedition train. As Joan McCarter notes, that pro-fascist coup faction represents a quarter of the Senate Republican caucus. 

At the other end of the spectrum, several of their GOP colleagues have spoken out forcefully against the largely symbolic, politically expedient, and certainly futile effort—which will ultimately be shot down in the Democrat-controlled House. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who notably isn't running for reelection in 2022, blasted Hawley and Cruz by name in a statement for trying to undermine "the right of the people to elect their own leaders."

On Wednesday, Toomey said, "I intend to vigorously defend our form of government by opposing this effort to disenfranchise millions of voters in my state and others.”

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who has regularly marched to the beat of his own drummer in the caucus, also skewered the effort as an "egregious ploy." And Sen. Ben Sasse, who is no doubt working to burnish his own brand of Republicanism, called the challenge “a very, very, bad idea,” saying he was both "concerned about the division in America" and the health of the Republican Party. "This is bad for the country and bad for the party,” said Sasse, who just secured another six-year Senate term.

Sen. Tom of Cotton of Arkansas, a GOP firebrand also eyeing 2024, turned in a somewhat unusual condemnation of the pro-Trump challenge on constitutional grounds, saying it would "only embolden those Democrats who want to erode further our system of constitutional government.” 

Even some Republicans in the House have objected to the Trumpian coup. Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, also a GOP firebrand and one-time aide to Sen. Cruz, forced his GOP colleagues Sunday to vote on whether the House delegations from the states Trump is challenging should be seated since Republicans are claiming widespread systemic fraud took place in those states.

"After all, those representatives were elected through the very same systems—with the same ballot procedures, with the same signature validations, with the same broadly applied decisions of executive and judicial branch officials—as were the electors chosen for the President of the United States under the laws of those states," Roy said of the House delegations from Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada. Naturally, nearly every one of his GOP voted in favor of seating the delegations, with a vote of 371-2 permitting Pelosi to swear in all the House members from the states Trump is challenging. The two GOP members who voted against it said they simply wanted to debate the matter. 

While the whole episode on Wednesday will serve as yet another stain on the entire Republican party, it will at least have the benefit of forcing Senate Republicans to go on the record either backing a bald-faced betrayal of American democracy or risking the wrath of Trump. Neither one of those positions is particularly enviable for the cohort of vulnerable Senate Republicans in 2022. It forces those Senate Republicans to place very early bets on risking the alienation of more moderate suburban voters in order to woo Trump voters who may or may not actually continue to turn out for the Republican party once Trump isn't on the ticket. Sitting GOP senators such as John Thune of South Dakota are already facing the prospect of attracting primaries from Trump acolytes, which in turn could imperil the GOP’s path to prevailing in subsequent general election contests. 

If Senate Republicans had hung together and refused to challenge the election results during this week’s joint session, they all could have started to build a certain amount of insulation from Trumpian politics moving forward. But as it turns out, a craven party that eagerly betrayed the country to achieve its own political ends has only served to embolden its own cohort of craven politicians who are eagerly throwing their colleagues under the bus to serve their own political ends. What comes around, goes around. 

Romney makes up new ‘precedent’ to say he’ll vote on a Trump Supreme Court nominee

Sen. Willard Mitt Romney, the Republican from Utah who broke ranks with Republicans to vote to convict Donald Trump on one of the articles of impeachment, abuse of power, has snapped back into line when it matters most: a Trump Supreme Court nominee. He says his decision isn’t based on “a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,” but on “the Constitution and precedent.” And then makes up some real bullshit on precedent: "The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own." Except for when a Democratic Senate confirmed Ronald Reagan’s nominee, Anthony Kennedy, in 1988. 

“The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own,” he says. Historical precedent set by Mitch McConnell in 2016 in order to steal a Supreme Court seat from President Barack Obama. Maybe in the future we’ll have to call it the Romney Doctrine, just to cement for history how pathetic he is. 

This means McConnell has the votes. He doesn’t know (supposedly) the nominee yet, but he’s got the votes. It’s worth noting that he’s been sitting on the HEROES Act coronavirus relief bill for four months without acting, but will try to push a Supreme Court nominee in five weeks. It means that Sen. Susan Collins now has permission from McConnell to vote against the nominee, if she thinks that will save her pathetic political skin, because he doesn’t need her vote. It will be too little, too late for Collins, but that’s what will happen. 

It's about saving the country. Simple as that. Donate now to help bring it back to the White House and Senate.

David Frum: Don’t assume McConnell has the votes to confirm

Last night and this morning, I felt like crawling into a hole for the next 40 days or so. And not a deep hole. I didn’t have the energy or joie de vivre for a deep hole. It would have been a shallow hole. Barely a hole at all. Really, I would have just lay down in the dirt until my DNA fused to the worms’ and slugs’ and grasses’ much more upbeat genetic material.

But I’m a more resilient guy ever since I got into therapy and on antidepressants (I recommend both if you’re struggling). And this morning a friend sent me this Atlantic story from former George W. Bush speechwriter and confirmed NeverTrumper David Frum.

He makes some excellent points (one of them being, don't swallow your tongue in abject, pants-shitting fear just yet):

What McConnell did in 2016 was an assertion of brute power, and what he proposes in 2020 is another assertion of brute power. And so the question arises: Does McConnell in fact have the power he asserts?

The answer may be no, for four reasons.

Do tell, David Frum:

The polls do not favor Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, or Thom Tillis—senators from Maine, Colorado, and North Carolina up for reelection this cycle. Yet these competitors may not be ready to attend their own funerals. They may regard voting against McConnell's Court grab as a heaven-sent chance to prove their independence from an unpopular president—and to thereby save their own seats.

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has also made skeptical noises, and even Lindsey Graham of South Carolina may flinch. He faces an unexpectedly tough race this year, and he is extra-emphatically on the record vowing not to support a Supreme Court confirmation vote in the later part of a presidential year.

Frum also asks if Trump can find a woman nominee (Trump almost needs to nominate a woman to replace the legendary RBG, lest his female support erode even further) at the 11th hour who will be viewed as moderate enough by the senators who could be thinking of defecting.

Any last-minute Trump nominee will face a gantlet of opposition in the Senate, a firestorm of opposition in the country, and probably a lifetime of suspicion from the majority of the country.

Can McConnell and Trump find an appointee willing to risk all that for the chance—but not the guarantee—of a Supreme Court seat? Specifically, can they find a woman willing to do it? The optics of replacing Ginsburg with a man may be too ugly even for the Trump administration. And if they can find a woman, can they find a woman sufficiently moderate-seeming to provide cover to anxious senators? The task may prove harder than immediately assumed.

In addition, Yertle the Asshole’s hypocrisy on this issue is so egregiously off the charts it might create a mutually assured destruction scenario in which Democrats (assuming Biden wins and Dems retake the Senate) feel justified in packing the court by, say, adding two more justices.

But a last-minute overreach by McConnell could seem so illegitimate to Democrats as to justify radical countermoves should they win in November: increasing the number of appellate judges and Supreme Court justices; conceivably even opening impeachment hearings against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

McConnell may want the win badly enough to dismiss those risks. But many conservative-leaning lawyers in the country may be more cautious. And their voices will get a hearing in a contentious nomination fight—not only by the national media, but by some of the less Trump-y Republican senators. This could be enough to slow down a process that has no time to spare.

I think Frum makes some great points, and anything that will keep me from reaching for the shovel is welcome news right now.

So let’s breathe, and keep fighting on.

A Democratic Senate has never been more important. Make it so.

“This guy is a natural. Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry." — Bette Midler on Aldous J. Pennyfarthing, via TwitterFind out what made dear Bette break up. Dear F*cking Lunatic: 101 Obscenely Rude Letters to Donald Trump and its boffo sequels Dear Pr*sident A**clown: 101 More Rude Letters to Donald Trump and Dear F*cking Moron: 101 More Letters to Donald Trump by Aldous J. Pennyfarthing are now available for a song! Click those links, yo!

The most important accomplishment of impeaching Trump was its impact on Joe Biden

Impeaching The Man Who Lost The Popular Vote was incredibly important, and not only because it was the right thing to do. Yes, he committed crimes and abused the power of his office, and yes he deserved to be impeached and removed from that office—the record of every Republican Senator other than Mitt Romney will be forever stained by their votes to acquit. History will remember their cowardice.

Beyond the morality, impeachment has had a clear, long-lasting political benefit, one that will pay dividends for Vice President Joe Biden this November. Thanks to impeachment, everyone knows that the charges Trump leveled against Joe and Hunter Biden on Ukraine—the ones he tried to blackmail that country’s president into investigating, or least announcing an intention to investigate—are utter malarkey.

Trump always feared running against Biden, and he acted corruptly in a failed bid to get enough dirt to derail the former VP’s quest to win the Democratic nomination. The impeachment process shone a bright light on Trump’s actions, and on his lies about Biden, ensuring that the smear campaign ultimately backfired.

Since the end of the impeachment trial, Trump and his minions have continued to bleat on with their completely invented and thoroughly debunked stories about the Bidens. I won’t dignify them by repeating the specifics here. Recently, Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who heads the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, have been “investigating”—i.e., trying to keep the story in the media—this bullshit.

Never mind that by falsely smearing Biden over Ukraine, Johnson and his fellow Republican senators are all but doing the work of Vladimir Putin for him, as this Associated Press article explained

But the stark warning that Russia is working to denigrate the Democratic presidential candidate adds to questions about the probe by Johnson’s Senate committee and whether it is mimicking, even indirectly, Russian efforts and amplifying its propaganda.

The investigation is unfolding as the country, months removed from an impeachment case that had centered on Ukraine, is dealing with a pandemic and confronting the issue of racial injustice. Yet allegations about Biden and Ukraine remain a popular topic in conservative circles, pushed by Russian media and addressed regularly by President Donald Trump and other Republicans as a potential path toward energizing his supporters.

[...] “Particularly as a public official and somebody who’s responsible for keeping the country safe, you should always be suspicious of narratives that are trying to sort of damage or target the electoral process in your country,” said former CIA officer Cindy Otis, a foreign disinformation expert and vice president of analysis at Alethea Group. “You should always be suspicious of narratives that foreign countries are pumping out.”

As Daily Kos’ Kerry Eleveld pointed out, Johnson even admitted that his so-called probe would “would certainly help Donald Trump win reelection and certainly be pretty good, I would say, evidence about not voting for Vice President Biden.” It amazing; these Republicans always manage to say the quiet part out loud, which I guess is helpful. Nevertheless, to paraphrase what Otter said to his nemesis (and professional Republican, according to the character futures provided) Gregg Marmalard in Animal House, “Gee, you’re dumb.”

Then the Orange Julius Caesar himself got into the act. On August 16 he retweeted material that our own intelligence agencies had previously identified as Russian disinformation—part of its effort to directly influence the presidential election by “denigrating” Biden. As CNN put it: “By retweeting material that the US government has already labeled as propaganda -- and doing so with the 2020 Democratic National Convention kicking off on Monday -- Trump demonstrated once again that he is willing to capitalize on foreign election meddling for his own political gain.” Here’s Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner:

The President of the United States should never be a willing mouthpiece for Russian propaganda. https://t.co/9y6L6uMKbM

— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) August 17, 2020

Then came the four-day marathon of lies known as the Republican National Convention. Former Florida (where else?) Attorney General Pam Bondi went before a national audience and, once again, did Putin’s bidding by lying about the Bidens and Ukraine. The truth? When Joe Biden sought the removal of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shukin he did so, as Greg Sargent of the Washington Post noted, “because the prosecutor was corrupt.” Sargent added some more important facts: “This was U.S. policy, backed by international institutions. GOP senators had no problem with it in real time. As The Post’s fact-checking team puts it, Bondi’s story is ‘fiction,’ and in reality, Joe Biden ‘was thwarting corruption, not abetting it.’” Bondi told some other lies about Hunter Biden, which the WaPo fact-checking team also debunked

When these latter day Marmalards now issue their breathtaking press releases or repeat Russian disinformation about the Bidens and Ukraine, the media—thus far at least—has been taking them for what they are: Utter horseshit. I won’t say the media has learned their lesson, but unlike 2016, when “but her emails” was literally the most reported story of the campaign, this year everyone who isn’t directly sucking at the Trump teat is treating these debunked charges with the (lack of) seriousness they deserve. 

For that, we can thank the impeachment of Donald Trump, which exposed the lies against the Bidens for what they are. The impeachment process inoculated the media and the American public by preparing them for what Trump is now trying to pull on this matter. So thank you Nancy Pelosi, thank you Adam Schiff, thank you Val Demings, thank you Jerry Nadler, and thanks to the rest of the Democratic impeachment team. I’m sure Joe Biden is thanking you as well.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)

Trump must be impeached and removed for commuting Roger Stone’s sentence. Rule of law demands it

It’s very simple: By commuting Roger Stone’s sentence, The Man Who Lost The Popular Vote has sent a clear signal that anyone who does something illegal on his behalf, or who has knowledge of something illegal he has done and lies about it under oath, and/or to investigators, will never be punished. This an act that fatally weakens the constitutionally mandated checks and balances through which our democracy prevents a president from achieving dictatorial power.

Investigations cannot proceed toward any sort of justice if no one is required to tell the truth. That much should be apparent to any reasonable, objective observer, no matter their party. This president has now created a shield around himself so that he can—so long as he simply maintains the loyalty of his minions—do literally anything he wants and remain free of accountability or punishment. That cannot be allowed to stand. Our system offers but one remedy.

Thus far, only a single Republican office-holder of note has spoken out about Trump’s attack on the rule of law. All other Republicans must take a stand—either for the would-be Tyrant from Trump Tower, or for American constitutional democracy. There is no in-between.

Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.

— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) July 11, 2020

We know the reasons we will hear from those who counsel against impeachment and removal: “but the election…..” You know what? Fuck that. This is about standing up for our Constitution. And not just the Second Amendment.

For far too long, Trump and Republican leaders in Congress, and in the states, have acted in ways that are technically within their rights (does Merrick Garland ring a bell?), but which violate fundamental constitutional norms. Commuting Roger Stone, however, goes far beyond violating norms. Even Richard Nixon didn’t pull anything like this. Trump’s corrupt actions represent a blatant attempt to destroy our democracy, and the only way to stop him is for Congress to take the one power the Constitution provides to rein in such a president.

Congress must impeach and remove Donald Trump. Now.

Senate Republicans recommit themselves to Trump—no matter how much he endangers the country

Sure, Donald Trump is unfit. Sure, Trump may have begged yet another country—China—to help him win reelection. Sure, Trump is emotionally damaged and intellectually addled, according to a written account by his former national security adviser John Bolton. 

But does that matter to the Senate Republicans who cosigned Trump's presidency by saving him from conviction without hearing from a single witness? Are you high? No effing way do they have the integrity required for a little self-examination, according to CNN reporting. They're in the tank for Trump—always have been, always will be, no matter what.

Wanna give Senate Republicans the boot? Give $2 right now to say “Bye Felicia” this November.

Asked whether Senate Republicans should have sought to secure Bolton's testimony now that his book is out, the ever-reflective Sen. Ron Johnson responded, "No," adding, "We never should have had an impeachment trial."

Of course, that's not what Bolton said. Based on Trump's persistent pattern of placing his own personal and electoral needs over duty to the country, Bolton said Trump should have been investigated and impeached for more, not less. Trump engaged in "obstruction of justice as a way of life," as Bolton said, referring to his interventions in criminal investigations for personal favors.

Still, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who's likely one of the top two most-endangered GOP senators seeking reelection, had the nerve to speak up and blame House Democrats for not taking Bolton to court over this unwillingness to testify. "The House didn't think it was important," Sen. Gardner quipped. What a weasel. Bolton, who's no hero, did publicly express his willingness to testify in front of the GOP-led Senate—the Republican caucus just refused to hear from him, or any other witnesses for that matter.

The sole Republican senator to express regret about not hearing from Bolton also voted in favor of having witnesses at the trial. “I wish we had a trial with the people testifying under oath,” Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters.

But most Republicans did the only logical thing one could do in the face of a 500-page manuscript documenting the myriad ways in which Trump is selling out and endangering the country: They refused to comment. 

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, however, really went the extra mile, affirming that he's more convinced than ever that Trump's the right guy for the job despite begging China to buy more agricultural products in order to secure his reelection. "Different people use different sales techniques," Barrasso offered. Whether they’re legal or not apparently isn’t relevant. "Every president has, one way or another, thought they ought to be reelected. I think President Trump should be reelected. I support his reelection, I'm for it."

Do Republicans even know the Constitution exists? They are  proving themselves more useless by the day, and have no business stewarding the country.