In the midst of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, wherein he stands accused of misusing his office to target a domestic political rival, Republicans have worked hard to justify Trump applying pressure on the Ukrainians to investigate a company affiliated with Joe Biden’s son. It was truly about stemming Ukrainian corruption, Republicans argue; it had nothing to do with Trump trying to undermine the elder Biden, who he saw as a likely 2020 opponent.
It’s clear they’re lying. But the GOP strategy has been to stick to the usual Trump script: whatever bad, corrupt or immoral act he stands accused of — and there are a lot at this point — didn’t happen. And if it did happen, it was justified. And if it wasn’t justified, well whatever, it doesn’t matter.
This has worked for Trump, from the “grab ’em by the [you know]” Access Hollywood tape to summoning Russian interference in US elections to blatant attempts to abuse the office of the presidency. Republicans seem thrilled that he’s still standing and happy to continue propping him up. But now we’re in an impeachment process that is somber and formal, and they know they have to toe a harder line. This isn’t just about convincing Facebook warriors to continue sharing pro-Trump memes. This is an event that will make an imprint on history.
Which makes Joni Ernst’s comments so stunning — and telling.
In other words, Republicans (and we’re waiting for any of them to say otherwise) have now decided that not only is a president leveraging his office to damage a domestic political rival (a fellow US citizen, a lifetime civil servant) not an impeachable offense, but they themselves will also be only too happy to use these impeachment hearings to do the same thing: to target Biden for their own political gain in the 2020 election.
It’s classic Trumpian projection and redirection: The President tried to interfere with an election by having a rival investigated? Nuh-uh, it’s Democrats who are interfering with an election by holding him accountable. There are mounds of evidence that the President is crooked? Nuh-uh, it’s actually the leading Democratic primary contender — go look over there, at him.
Democrats are trying to ensure that the leader of the ostensibly free world behaves in the nation’s best interests and according to the rule of law. Republicans are trying to make sure that he wins — at any cost. And that includes attacking Hunter and Joe Biden while forgiving, justifying and even enabling the rampant wrongdoings of the man sitting in the Oval Office.
It turns out that it isn’t just the president whose narcissism, corruption and immorality threatens the wellbeing of the United States. It’s the entire party apparatus behind him.
How do we know? Joni Ernst just told us.