The New York Times gives impeachment the both-sides treatment

House Republicans are engaging in a completely partisan, evidence-free impeachment inquiry—but Peter Baker of The New York Times wants to talk about how the White House is treating this as a political issue. And just to get this out of the way right off the bat, the paragraph count before Baker acknowledges that Republicans have no evidence against Biden is seven.

In paragraph eight, he gets around to, “The Republican investigation so far has not produced concrete evidence of a crime by the president, as even some Republicans have conceded.” Even there, the implication is that the Republican investigation has produced some evidence, and they just need to make it concrete. In reality, the Republican investigation has produced no evidence that the president has engaged in any misconduct, let alone a crime.

Before the reader gets to that halfhearted admission, though, they’ve had to plow through a great deal of fretting about how the White House is treating this as political:

Forget the weighty legal arguments over the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors or the constitutional history of the removal process. Mr. Biden’s defense team has chosen to take on the Republican threat by convincing Americans that it is nothing more than base partisanship driven by a radical opposition.

How exactly would Baker propose the White House make weighty legal arguments when there is no legal case against Biden? When after months of fruitless investigations into Biden, Republicans have simply decided to go ahead with claiming to have found the things they looked for and didn’t find? What would he have the White House or any other Democrats do in response?

Campaign Action

At one point, Baker quotes Julian Epstein, a Clinton-era lawyer for the Democrats of the House Judiciary Committee. “Overall, this has not been handled well by the White House,” Epstein argued. “The team there has violated the cardinal sin of investigations — allowing new information to trickle out continuously and while being stuck in stale Baghdad Bob-like ‘no evidence’ denials.” But if the White House hadn’t allowed new information to come out organically, the Peter Bakers of the world would have said that Biden was suppressing evidence! And how is the White House supposed to characterize the lack of evidence other than to point out that lack? 

As always, Democrats are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If Democrats were to cede the political fight and allow Republicans to beat the crap out of Biden while the Democratic Party was busy making “weighty legal arguments over the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors or the constitutional history of the removal process,” it might satisfy Baker for a minute, but it would be a disastrous course of action. As it is, through sheer repetition and relying on lousy media coverage that doesn’t call a lie a lie, Republicans have convinced a substantial fraction of the public that there must be a there there when it comes to Biden and corruption. Imagine if Democrats voluntarily disarmed.

As entries in the Peter Baker oeuvre go, this one is pretty pedestrian and uninspired, nowhere near as creative as the time he wondered at length if it was a problem for Biden that Donald Trump was getting all the attention by being indicted. You didn’t have to be The New York Times Pitchbot to know that the Times would respond to the White House documenting Republican lies about the basis for impeachment and calling on the media to cover it better by fretting about the White House violating norms. As tired and predictable as it is, though, it’s still harmful to have the Times pretending there’s equivalence between a fraudulent impeachment inquiry and attempts to push back on such an inquiry by pointing out that it is fraudulent.

If it feels more like a political campaign than a serious legal proceeding, that is because at this point it is, at least as the White House sees it and would like others to. In the first 24 hours of their inquiry, the House Republicans made no new requests for documents, issued no new subpoenas, demanded no new testimony and laid out no potential articles of impeachment. Instead, they went to the cameras to call Mr. Biden a liar and a crook, so Mr. Biden’s defenders went to the cameras to return fire.

Note the structure here: The White House wants people to see it as political. There’s strong evidence that it is, yet it is always the White House’s pushback efforts that lead Baker’s coverage, as if they came first. Reality is the reverse.

‘Lying motherf***er’: In private, Lindsey Graham told the truth about Trump. In public, not so much

With few notable exceptions—Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, the drunk gremlin inside Louie Gohmert who controls his mind and wakes him up when he’s about to drown in shallow bowls of SpaghettiOs—congressional Republicans all know damned well that Donald Trump is a dangerous liar.

Yet for some reason, or combination of reasons—cowardice, blackmail, lust for power, free omelets—South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has been a Trump super-sycophant. But it’s unlikely that Graham’s 2016 assessments of Trump—including I think he's a kook; I think he's crazy; I think he's unfit for office”—ever really changed. What changed was Lindsey’s semi-gelatinous backbone, which miraculously—and almost overnight—transformed into a thin slurry of dead spinal tissue.

As if we needed more evidence that Sen. Graham is slouching toward fascism with his eyes wide open, there’s new reporting about his true feelings toward Adderall Hitler.

RELATED: In leaked audio, Sen. Lindsey Graham calls Biden 'maybe the best person to have' as president

The Independent:

In their upcoming book The Divider: Trump in the White House 2017-2021, authors Peter Baker and Susan Glasser recall how they met with Mr Graham outside a Washington DC steakhouse less than 48 hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry into whether Mr Trump had extorted the president of Ukraine in a now-infamous July 2019 phone call. The Independent obtained a copy ahead of its 20 September publication date.

Standing on the sidewalk on 19th Street in Northwest Washington, Mr Graham bragged about his access to Mr Trump and told the husband-and-wife author duo about Mr Trump’s boasts regarding his closeness with evangelical pastors who’d met with him the day before. He said Mr Trump had told him: “Those f***ing Christians love me.”

“Those fucking Christians love me” is one of the Trumpiest quotes I’ve ever read, honestly. I’m sure he uttered that without the barest whiff of irony.

RELATED: As white nationalists, Jan. 6 extremists embrace Christian nationalism, even darker forces revive

Of course, Graham, who voted against convicting Trump in our fugazi führer’s first impeachment trial, nevertheless admitted to the authors that he knew who Trump really was:

“He’s a lying motherf***er,” Mr Graham said, adding the caveat that Mr Trump was also “a lot of fun to hang out with.”

Well, if he’s fun to hang out with, I guess that makes everything he’s done—from blackmailing foreign heads of state to inciting an insurrection to stashing highly classified government documents in random TrapperKeepers in his basement—totally excusable. “Gang, meet Vladimir. He’s committing mass genocide as we speak, but check it out, he brought Pocky!” But Graham didn’t lean on delicious Japanese cookie sticks to justify his defense of Trump. What he actually used as justification for his loyalty is far worse: MAGA devotion to the GOP leader. “[Trump] could kill 50 people on our side and it wouldn’t matter,” he said.

I used to think that if this nation were ever faced with a credible fascistic threat, both major parties—and the mainstream media—would move heaven and Earth to excise the cancer. Instead, they’re leveraging this clear and present danger to Western democracy in order to marginally increase their political influence and sell more books.

RELATED: Maggie Haberman: Just another person 'willing to let democracy die on the altar of a book deal'

RELATED: New book catalogs how Trump worked to weaken American democracy, and to deliberately spread COVID-19

Might have been nice of Baker and Glasser to expose this bit of Graham duplicity years ago, before he helped normalize Goofball Satan and his ongoing quest to turn America into a fascist Cracker Barrel. But hey, if this country is going to irrevocably transform itself into a dystopian hellscape anyway, might as well make a few bucks off it and save it for the book, right?

Nov. 8 is less than two months away. Check out how you can help get out the vote, or chip in to support our slate of endorsed candidates!

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.