Republicans have a problem: They want to claim that impeaching President Donald Trump is completely ridiculous, but just a few short decades ago, they were driving the push for impeaching President Bill Clinton.
And in that process, they said a lot of things that will likely come back to haunt them.
Take Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), for instance, who said Monday that it’s time to “move on” from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — even though we only got the exhaustive 448-page report last week. He seems to think the extensive case for obstruction of justice laid out in Volume II of the report should just be ignored.
But MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” showed that, in 1998 when it was Clinton under investigation, McConnell was, by contrast, deeply concerned about the integrity of the presidency.
In a speech at the impeachment hearings, McConnell said he wanted to draw attention to a “serious and deeply troubling crisis” in the country. “This is a crisis of confidence, of credibility, and of integrity. Our nation is indeed at a crossroads: Will we pursue the search for truth, or will we dodge, weave and evade the truth.”
The Mueller report laid out the lengths that President Trump went to impair the investigation. The President's congressional colleagues say it's time to move on, but during the Clinton impeachment hearings they expressed a very different point of view. #Hardball pic.twitter.com/6GhopkUCCN
— Hardball (@hardball) April 22, 2019
At the time, Clinton was under fire for lying to investigators about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, which was, undoubtedly, wildly inappropriate. But now that Trump stands accused of obstructing a national security investigation, McConnell appears unable to muster up any indignation or outrage.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has become one of Trump’s closest congressional allies, similarly seems to have lost his passion for restoring the dignity of the White House.
“You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determinates that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role,” said Graham in 1998. “Because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office.”
In another clip from the time period, Graham made clear that what he was concerned with was Clinton’s obstruction of justice — precisely the charge Trump faces:
“I’m telling you momentum is shifting toward impeachment, because people are looking at facts and coming to realise the President committed serious crimes and it is not just about sex. The idea that this is an accusatory function here. We are not the trial, the trial is in the Senate. Our job is to find credible evidence if there is warning impeachment from that evidence; grand jury perjury, obstruction of justice by the President, I think are high crimes and misdemeanours. The only thing to change my mind would be direct, honest candour on his part. The President has to earn censure.
Of course, it’s not just Republicans who will be embarrassed. Democrats such as Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) who in 1998 attacked the impeachment push against Clinton may now find themselves contradicting their prior claims. But they, more credibly, can point to an important difference. While Clinton was impeached over his obstructive lies about a consensual, though wrongful, sexual relationship, Trump’s conduct relates much more directly to an issue of national importance: Russia’s attack on American elections and the investigation into that matter.
‘Rather than leading — he lies’: MSNBC panel says Trump is a ‘danger to the country’ because he can’t be trusted
MSNBC commentators, former assistant US Attorney Maya Wiley and Rick Wilson, explained that President Donald Trump's most significant barrier is making it past his own lies to save America from the coronavirus.
"There's a case tonight being tested in Walton County, Florida. The heart of Trump country," said Wilson, referring to the panhandle county east of Pensacola. "That's not going to be something you can just walk away from if it turns out to be a real case. We're seeing these things popping up all over. The safe bet was always to say, 'This could be bad. We'll do everything we can to stop it.' But he can't stop himself from self-aggrandizing and lying about things. And it's actually -- setting aside my normal criticism of Trump -- this is a danger to the country that he is not a trustworthy person for the American people. Even people who like him now he BS's them all the time. Now, if he says it's not a problem and people are being hospitalized, it is a problem."
Trump ‘just wants this problem to go away’: President desperate to get coronavirus ‘off his plate’
President Donald Trump is desperate for the coronavirus problem to go away, and he doesn't exactly care how it happens.
According to New York Times reporter Annie Karni, sources are telling her that the biggest concern Trump has is more about the markets than the deaths of Americans from the virus.
"First, let's establish, this is a president who tried to change science with a Sharpie when it came to hurricane path prediction," said MSNBC host Brian Williams. "That picture lasts forever."
"Even his allies on Fox and his allies outside the White House were kind of channeling to that proverbial audience of one that this was a great opportunity to look presidential and to tell the facts," said Karni. The Donald Trump we saw out there in the briefing room was very casual, kind of left the facts to the other people that accompanied him out there. But he clearly publicly and privately just wants this problem to go away. He wants to downplay it. He thinks -- he has called people who are talking about fears about it alarmist. He doesn't want to be alarmist, and he's kind of holding on to any comment that makes it sound like this will naturally be a problem that is removed from his plate. That's what we saw publicly, and that's what he's been saying privately as well."
Seth Meyers: You know Trump isn’t the chief law enforcement officer because he couldn’t pass the physical
"Late Night" host Seth Meyers warned that the United States is sliding into authoritarianism under President Donald Trump.
Sounding the alarm Wednesday evening, Meyers cited reports that Trump was making lists of disloyal people, purging them from their jobs, hiring unqualified cronies in top posts, and claiming he has the right to interfere in criminal cases.
While speaking to the press last week, Trump even announced that he's allowed to be involved in all criminal cases because he's the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. It's actually a title used for the attorney general.