From the outside, the first impeachment of Donald Trump looked to be a smooth-running machine within the GOP, minus some dissent from Romney, who eventually voted guilty, and Collins, who voted to hear evidence. Other than the “meaningless” two, the Republicans aligned perfectly with Trump, and we didn’t hear a word of dissent. Now, though, a serious book by serious reporters unveils the serious fury and fights within the GOP Senate, even among stalwarts like Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, in defending a man they all knew was guilty.
In “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump,” due out Oct. 18, Politico’s Rachael Bade and The Washington Post’s Karoun Demirjian uncover a behind-the-scenes look at both impeachments, but the focus in this post is the shocking level of anger (at Trump) and infighting that went on during the First Impeachment. It is safe to say that every single Republican Senator knew the Ukraine call was an impeachable act, and the goal was to come out the other side with Trump still in power and – more importantly, without losing the senate majority in 2020.
From Huffpo’s review:
“Out of one hundred senators, you have zero who believe you that there was no quid pro quo. None. There’s not a single one,” Cruz reportedly said at one point, contradicting what Republicans were saying publicly about the charges at the time.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also fumed at Trump’s legal team after they fumbled responding to a senator’s question about calling new witnesses. Trump’s attorneys said that it was simply too late to do so, a line Graham worried would lose Republican votes.
“We are FCKED. We are FCKED!” Graham, a top Trump ally, reportedly said afterward as he walked into the GOP cloakroom, a private chamber adjacent to the Senate floor.
Respecting the bounds of Fair Use, we’ll note that Trump’s defense attorney Allan Dershowitz argued that if Trump believed that his reelection was in the public interest, then it was perfectly okay to offer the quid pro quo. Senator Roy Blunt and Senator Ted Cruz were so offended by the defense that they demanded that Trump fire his defense team on the spot.
McConnell remained above it all by saying it wasn’t about Trump. It was about maintaining a majority in 2020. Ironically, it is partly because the Republicans aligned so strongly in such a ridiculous position that Trump lost, and McConnell lost his leadership post.
Sen. Murkowski from Alaska was so upset with McConnell when McConnell publicly said that the Republican Senate’s position is exactly aligned with Trump’s defense, that there was no “room” between the two, that Murkowski told reporters that she was “disturbed” by McConnell’s comment (As she should be, the assertion went entirely against the impeachment process as a juror). McConnell fired off an angry email at Murkowski.
The book itself notes, of Murkowski:
To Murkowski, the party had transformed into a mindless herd of Arctic musk ox: eight-hundred-pound beasts that form a protective circle around their young, with their horns turned outward and their rears tucked inside. Republican leaders, much to her frustration, were constantly telling their rank and file: “You gotta circle. You gotta circle together to protect one another here” – which meant, of course, circling to protect Trump. Just like musk ox, Murkowski thought.
From the outside, it all “looked” perfect, even when Romney told the caucus that if they were trying to persuade him not to hear evidence, they were only pushing him further away. It looked “unified,” but for the ultra-moderate former GOP presidential nominee. But it just goes to show that the Republicans are really good at putting on a show to the outside world while gnashing their teeth over the difficulty of full subservience to Trump and even McConnell.
Ted Cruz, “Not a single senator believes this wasn’t a quid pro quo,” and Trump, “Impeachment Hoax One.” That’s the modern MAGA party in a nutshell.
@JasonMiciak believes a day without learning is a day not lived. He is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is a Canadian-born dual citizen who spent his teen and college years in the Pacific Northwest and has since lived in seven states. He now enjoys life as a single dad of a young girl, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast. He loves crafting his flower pots, cooking, and currently studies philosophy of science, religion, and non-math principles behind quantum mechanics and cosmology. Please feel free to contact with any concerns.