Left to right: Republican Reps. Lee Zeldin of New York, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania
House Republicans suffered a one-two punch Monday on their impeachment defense of Donald Trump—one from an ally and the other from their archrival. Trump himself trashed GOP lawmakers’ desperate protestations over Democrats’ impeachment process as perhaps well-meaning but misguided. “I’d rather go into the details of the case rather than process,” Trump told reporters of the July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that landed him in this impeachment mess in the first place. It was only the latest death blow to Trump’s hopscotch defense, which included the White House releasing a rough transcript of the call that would supposedly be exculpatory but wasn’t, followed by a constant flow of evidence of a Trump-directed quid pro quo.
Later Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also announced a likely vote this week on the formal impeachment resolution for which Republicans have been clamoring. And so, back to the drawing board went Trump’s staunchest allies in the House, led by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, and New York Rep. Lee Zeldin. Of course, their only option is to defend the substance of Trump’s actions, which should be entertaining, as a crew of substance-lite guys work to defend the indefensible.
“There is a growing desire among Republicans to start building a more merit-based case to defend Trump in the Ukraine scandal, according to a source familiar with the GOP’s thinking,” writes Politico. “More merit-based” coupled with “the GOP’s thinking.” LOL. Even Politico acknowledges that it “could be a difficult ask of the GOP conference.”
As Republicans struggle to seize on a substantive defense, some are using the time to take a victory lap on the notion that they forced Democrats to take the vote.
“You can’t fix this process at this point, where they’ve done so much in secret,” Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the GOP conference chairwoman, told Politico. “But the fact that they now feel like they’ve got to move and do something in public shows you it’s an admission of guilt.”
Besides the fact that Pelosi actually checked them at the perfect time, good luck with that “forever-flawed” argument. Most voters were never going to remember the GOP’s process critiques in the first place, as a drip, drip, drip of damning testimony was publicly released over the last several weeks. But once all the testimony is made public and nationally televised hearings begin, arguments like Cheney’s will be dead on arrival.