Republican lawmakers have no problem with an American president subverting foreign policy for personal and partisan gain under two conditions — that president is named Donald Trump and he has an R after his name.
The facts are as plain as day: President Trump held up military aid to Ukraine while asking President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation calculated to discredit his political opposition. After Zelensky thanked Trump during the July 25 conversation “for your great support in the area of defense” and expressed readiness “to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes,” Trump responded, “I would like you do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” before launching into a bit of fabululism about a server that was supposedly in Ukraine and supposedly had something to do with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the last election.
Trump also prodded Zelensky to investigate the son of his presumed Democratic opponent in the 2020 election. “There’s a lot of talk about [Joe] Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that,” Trump said, “so whatever you can with the attorney general would be great.”
In a supplemental declaration provided to House investigators by Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the European Union, said that “in the absence of any credible explanation of the suspension of aid, I presumed that the aid suspension had become linked” to whether Ukraine pursued an investigation into the gas company on whose board Hunter Biden served and a theory about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 US election, according to the Washington Post.
It’s no surprise that Reps. Ted Budd and Mark Walker, whose congressional districts carve up Greensboro and Guilford County, voted in lockstep with their Republican colleagues to oppose the Oct. 31 impeachment resolution.
But their stated rationales for opposing the impeachment proceeding are risible.
“During the call, there was no pressure or conditionality placed US aid, and both President Trump and President Zelensky have said there was no quid pro quo,” Budd said in a prepared statement that stands in stark contradiction to the available evidence.
Walker, who was one of 25 House Republicans who stormed the House Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility on Oct. 23, focused on the process in his statement on Oct. 31, bizarrely accusing his Democratic colleagues of conducting a “tainted and secretive impeachment process” and “trying to retroactively legalize their injustices and hysterics” while calling Rep. Adam Schiff, who is leading the impeachment investigation, a “basement-dwelling judge, jury and executioner.”
Yes, the SCIF is in a basement; by design, it needs to have sound-proof walls. Schiff is not the judge, jury or executioner; that responsibility will fall to the Senate. Yes, the hearings, with both Democratic and Republican lawmakers in attendance, have been closed. It’s akin to taking depositions, and the purpose is to prevent witnesses from coordinating their testimony. All the evidence will come out, just like any trial. There’s no need “legalize” the process; it wasn’t ever illegal.
Echoing a tweet after his Oct. 23 stunt, Walker said in his Oct. 31 press release: “We will not allow the people of our nation to be shut out and shielded from the facts while their president is undermined by an irrational mob.”
Walker and Budd don’t speak for Guilford County, and their claim to speak on behalf of “the people” is tenuous at best.
They represent a carefully curated segment of the electorate designed to ensure that they don’t face political competition in the general election.
In the last election, Walker received 45.4 percent of the vote in Guilford County; Budd, only pitiful 35.5 percent. The gerrymandered districts, which were declared invalid by the state courts last week, split Democratic-leaning Guilford down the middle. If the districts were drawn fairly, at least one of the two lawmakers would be out of a job.
Likewise, only 43.9 percent of Forsyth County voters favored Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx in the last election.
We didn’t elect them, and they don’t speak for us.
The idea that lawmakers should demonstrate independent judgment might seem quaint and outdated. We’re not naïve — we know that GOP lawmakers are going to speak from partisan scripts rather than treat the impeachment process as a solemn duty and to fulfill their obligation to check abuses of executive power.
Their abandonment of fact-based deliberation is likely to play well in the 2020 Republican primary.
History may not be so kind.