As we arrive at this solemn moment in our history — where President Trump’s actions and valuing of his own interests over the country’s national security interests have led to his justified and necessary impeachment — it is regrettable, but not surprising, that Republicans in Congress have shunned their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution in order to protect a truly corrupt man who is fundamentally unfit to hold the Presidency and who will leave a dark stain on American history.
They have sworn practically blind allegiance to a man who would never return that same level of loyalty if they ever dared to cross or criticize him. So it came as no shock that Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to treat the impeachment inquiry hearings and the six hours of House debate last week with the seriousness this moment deserves.
Of all the shenanigans and theatrics, one moment that really stood out was when Rep. Barry Loudermilk thoroughly embarrassed and disgraced himself, comparing Trump’s impeachment to the trial of Jesus and saying the son of God, who was nailed to a cross and tortured, got a better shake from his prosecutors. Sadly, this is not the first time the plight of Trump has been essentially equated with the plight of Jesus.
As the bizarre clown show of false religious martyrdom continues around the country, the evidence is overwhelming that the president withheld congressionally- and Pentagon-approved military aid to Ukraine as leverage for them to commit to a baseless investigation of his next potential Democratic presidential opponent. There is more evidence that it was also part of a broader endeavor to do the bidding of Russia, the same country that interfered with our election in 2016 with the cheerleading of the Trump campaign.
This is not a matter of Trump’s political party or his administration’s policies. After all, if he were convicted and removed from office, Vice President Mike Pence would become president and would likely continue the bulk of the administration’s policies.
This is not, as many have absurdly claimed, about disrespecting or overturning the will of the 63 million people who voted for him, even as 66 million voted for Hillary Clinton and 7 million voted for other candidates.
This is about his abuse of the powers of his office, his attempts to block the American people from learning the full truth and his abject betrayal of his oath of office. Potential political consequences be damned, that conduct can no longer go unanswered, and one of the two major political parties at least seems to finally understand that.
And now, as impeachment eventually shifts to the Senate and new, more damning, revelations possibly unfold, congressional Republicans will have to consider what will be made of their own legacies years from now as people reflect on how they conducted themselves at a pivotal point for our democracy.
That is true for Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, who has yelled and whined his way through the proceedings. Collins, perhaps not understanding that higher volume does not equal clarity or truth, heeded the advice credited to the late journalist Carl Sandburg: “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”
And it is true for Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, whose vast 10th Congressional District includes Barrow County. The four-paragraph statement his office released Dec. 18 in opposition to the two impeachment articles may as well have come from any of the other nearly 200 GOP members of the body. It was totally devoid of facts about the credible evidence surrounding the allegations against the president, free of any defense on the merits of the president’s actions and filled with typical buzzwords and phrases that the Republicans have faithfully deployed throughout this process.
In the first paragraph, Hice laments that Trump has been met with “open hostility” from the media and his political foes since the day he was inaugurated, without any evidence to support that assertion. He says House Democrats have “squandered an entire year, wasting countless opportunities to enact positive change for America." This conveniently ignores the fact that the Democratic-led House has passed numerous pieces of legislation (dealing with everything from better healthcare access for more people, to lower prescription drug prices, to clamping down on gun violence), only to have them floundering on the desk of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has turned that chamber into a legislative graveyard apart from the string of conservative judicial nominees he has pushed through to confirmation.
Hice goes on to complain about the “impeachment charade” — again refusing to acknowledge any of the publicly available evidence that justifies impeachment — and wails about “secret, closed-door witness auditions,” ignoring that Republicans were given the same full access to the closed-door depositions prior to the public hearings. By “disgruntled career bureaucrats” is he referring to the witnesses with positions in the Trump administration who were so alarmed that they came forward? Is he talking about Gordon Sondland, a Trump campaign donor with no diplomatic experience who the president tapped to be the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union and who acknowledged that there was indeed a quid pro quo? It would behoove the congressman to re-examine the public record, if he ever examined it in the first place.
Hice ends with this: “While my colleagues on the other side of the aisle obsessed over issuing subpoenas, they lost sight of honoring the promises they made to the American people. We leave soon to return to our families for the Christmas season, having accomplished none of the great hopes we had when we entered the 116th Congress. Let’s hope that when we return in 2020 that the majority reevaluates its priorities so that we may finally get to work on the job the American people sent us to do.”
Perhaps the congressman should re-evaluate his own priorities and the oath he took as this unfolds into 2020. If McConnell agrees to a legitimate trial where the Senate jurors hear from witnesses whom the White House has refused to bring forward, more details the public has the right to know will be revealed. And if those details are more damning for Trump, Hice, along with his GOP colleagues in the House and Senate, will have to answer to his constituents for his dismissiveness of this serious moment.
If he can’t do that, the people of the 10th District will be better off voting for someone else next November.