But Obama. But Hillary. But Hunter Biden. But no quid pro quo. But hearsay. That’s what we have heard for the last week from Republican officials in response to the clear and compelling evidence that President Trump asked a foreign government to help smear his political opponent.
To all of them, I ask: But what about what the president did?
Let’s run through what has transpired just within the last 10 days.
The White House released a summary of a conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which the president asked for the “favor” of helping to find dirt on one of his political opponents and to help locate information that would undermine the American intelligence network.
The director of National Intelligence released the complaint of a whistleblower, who provided evidence that the White House covered up the conversation.
The president suggested that the legally protected whistleblower should be considered a spy and be executed.
Reports emerged that Trump, in a 2017 meeting with two Russian diplomats, said that he didn’t care about any Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and also said that the United States interferes as well.
It was reported that Attorney General William Barr is traveling around the world asking foreign officials for help in trying to establish that the Mueller investigation was the result of some “deep state” operation. In other words, he is trying to undermine the entire U.S. intelligence establishment.
It was reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was listening to the conversation between Trump and Zelensky but told reporters that he was not familiar with it.
President Trump admitted to reporters that the White House was illegally trying to find the identity of the whistleblower.
I am sure I have left something out.
In spite of all of this, almost no Republican officials have been willing to criticize the president. Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last Tuesday that she had authorized an impeachment inquiry, we have gotten mostly crickets. As conservative columnist Michael Gerson wrote last week, “This is perhaps the saddest result of Trump’s corruption: turning good men and women into the bodyguards of a petty, cruel, lawless, would-be autocrat.”
I have seen this show before.
In 1974, I was a staffer for U.S. Sen. Marlow Cook when the Watergate scandal unfolded. Despite mounting evidence of corruption and illegal activity, much of it exposed through the reporting of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in The Washington Post, very few Republicans in or out of government were willing to turn against President Richard Nixon.
Even after weeks and weeks of Senate hearings by a select committee, the conventional wisdom was that Nixon would escape punishment. Then, it was revealed that there were secret recordings of Oval Office conversations and, after a bitter court fight, the transcripts of those conversations were made public, and they revealed that Nixon had indeed been part of a conspiracy to cover up crimes committed by his 1972 campaign. Within weeks, Nixon resigned in disgrace after his Republican support disappeared. (Sen. Cook, to his eternal credit, was the first Republican official to call for Nixon’s resignation.)
So, we in the House will conduct an impeachment inquiry, and then we will inevitably pass an impeachment resolution on the House floor, sending charges to the Senate for a trial. I hope enough public pressure comes down on Republican senators to make an impartial trial possible. I am not overly optimistic.
Meanwhile, we have a dangerous man in the White House. If his increasingly erratic behavior isn’t enough to scare Republican sycophants into speaking up, they should read a book.
In 2017, Yale University psychiatry professor Bandy X. Lee and 26 other prominent mental health care professionals, published “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” which concluded the president exhibited patterns of behavior that threatened the country and the American people. When she spoke to me at the time, she said that the mental health characteristics Trump manifested always get worse.
Lee has now been joined by 37 professionals in a new edition, which contends that the predicted downward spiral is happening. I would hope my Republican colleagues would take note and join most House Democrats in our effort to stop Trump from doing additional damage to our democracy that may never be repaired. •
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, founder of LEO, has represented Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District since 2007 and is now chairman of the House Budget Committee.