Opinion

Renée Graham

GOP senators will back Trump — again

“From my point of view, to impeach any president over a phone call like this is insane,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (above), Republican of South Carolina.
J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
“From my point of view, to impeach any president over a phone call like this is insane,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (above), Republican of South Carolina.

MIKE MURPHY, a former senior adviser to Senators Mitt Romney and John McCain, claims a Republican senator told him, “if it was a secret vote, 30 Republican senators would vote to impeach President Trump.”

Great. Congratulations on your cowardice.

Expect no Republican profiles in courage when the formal impeachment inquiry begins. If GOP senators won’t perform in public what they profess in private, it doesn’t matter if they believe Trump deserves to be removed from office. He’d already reached the impeachment plateau long before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s tactics on a July phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine “revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”

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A damning whistle-blower complaint states Trump “for personal gain” pressured Ukraine to investigate former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, then tried to cover it up. It also implicates Attorney General William Barr and Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer.

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Yet Republicans will do exactly what they’ve done since January 20, 2017 — act as accomplices before, during, and after the fact to their president’s alleged high crimes and misdemeanors.

In a May 2017 column, I wrote this about the then-nascent Trump administration:

“. . . Trump’s isn’t merely a crooked administration. This presidency operates like a criminal enterprise, the likes of which we’ve only witnessed in Martin Scorsese gangster films.” I didn’t go far enough; I did not yet recognize, nor could I have imagined, the depth or persistence of the Republican Party’s collusion with Trump’s rampant criminality.

“From my point of view, to impeach any president over a phone call like this is insane,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, who devolved from one of Trump’s most ardent Republican critics during the 2016 campaign into his most aggressive defender.

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In response, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono said, “If that’s his definition of insanity, I’d say, with all due respect to my chairman, he’s already reached it himself.”

Insanity would be excusable. This is nothing more than craven calculation.

Whether a majority of Republicans think Trump is an “idiot” or unfit to be president is irrelevant. What matters is that he boosts their own self-interests and political survival. Nearly two months after two mass shootings 13 hours apart left 31 people dead and dozens injured in El Paso and Dayton, Trump hasn’t moved toward what he once called “meaningful” background checks on all gun purchases, despite a bill passed by House Democrats in February.

With two nominations, Trump has tilted the balance of the Supreme Court toward the possible elimination of Roe v. Wade, which Republicans have sought for decades. Trump is everything the party has worked toward since the launch of the Southern Strategy in the 1960s.

Plus, they don’t want to irk him and die a slow political death in a Trump tweetstorm.

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That’s why I don’t place much stock in any Republican who claims they really, really, really deep down in their heart and soul would vote to impeach Trump, so long as no one could find out about it. It’s the kind of self-serving misinformation leaked to make them look less like the callous egotists they are. No one deserves credit for almost doing the right thing.

Party of Lincoln? This isn’t even the party of former worst-ever president George W. Bush.

This is one reason, among many, that the impeachment inquiry is necessary. Get GOP legislators on the record supporting a president who behaves like a mafia capo and runs his administration like a criminal syndicate. Let them vote publicly against removing from the White House a man who ignores the rule of law and betrays our country.

All Nero did, according to the apocryphal tale, was fiddle while Rome burned. Even as Trump uses the Constitution as kindling, Republicans keep pretending there’s no blaze at all. The party of “nothing burgers” will opt to be complicit rather than courageous.

Renée Graham can be reached at renee.graham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham.