Conservative columnist Max Boot urged Republicans to get it together before they attempt to mount a defense in the House Intelligence Committee hearings on the impeachment inquiry Wednesday.
In his Washington Post column Tuesday, Boot outlined places where Republicans should make some edits if they truly intend to mount any kind of defense that makes sense.
Boot began by explaining that probably the greatest barrier to the GOP getting it right is that “the members of Congress and Fox News talking heads rushing forward to defend him aren’t the sharpest tools in the drawers.”
He cited Hoover Institute military historian Victor Davis Hanson, who gave 10 reasons the impeachment inquiry isn’t legitimate, saying he’s more convincing than a typical Fox News anchor, but even those aren’t strong enough to stand up to scrutiny.
The first argument Republicans have attempted is saying the investigation is illegitimate “because it is.” American support for answers is quickly growing, so claiming the investigation is somehow a coup d’etat from Democrats doesn’t hold water.
The second argument GOP members have tried is by attacking the whistleblower, saying he or she doesn’t have enough documents and information to be a “real whistleblower.” It isn’t exactly the best argument, Boot said, because the evidence that has come forward since the whistleblower complaint has confirmed.
Conservatives have also tried to claim that the whistleblower has a political interest in bringing down President Donald Trump because they are a “protégé” of former vice president Biden or a political partisan. As Boot explained, the whistleblower is reportedly a low-level CIA officer simply assigned to the White House. Calling them a “protégé” of Biden is “ludicrous,” Boot said.
Another argument from Republicans is that in the Nixon and Clinton impeachments, voters had no recourse because those presidents were in their second term. The right-wing thinks that this means no president can be impeached in the first term, which is inaccurate and not outlined anywhere in the Constitution. As Boot fact-checked, Andrew Johnson was impeached in his first term and during an election year.
The right-leaning Republicans have also claimed that because there is no special counsel finding the impeachment is illegitimate. It was a claim that annoyed Boot.
“Hanson has some nerve, ignoring special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s evidence that Trump obstructed justice — and then complaining that the impeachment can’t proceed for lack of a special counsel,” Boot wrote. “Again, Hanson never seems to have heard of Johnson, who was impeached without a special counsel.”
The GOP is also claiming that because there’s no bipartisanship the impeachment should be stopped. As Boot explained, that would give any partisan a veto on impeachment, which certainly isn’t outlined anywhere in the Constitution.
The White House has argued against the impeachment by saying there’s no actual crime. Boot noted that it’s an ironic claim because the White House is simultaneously alleging crimes by former Vice President Joe Biden without any evidence.
“Yet, Trump demanded that Ukraine “investigate” him in cooperation with Trump’s personal attorney. There is a strong case that Trump tried to solicit a bribe and invited foreign election interference in violation of U.S. law,” Boot wrote. “But you don’t have to commit a felony to be guilty of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.'”
When it comes to the actual extortion and bribery of Ukraine, Republicans have said that there may have been a “quid” but there was no “pro quo.” The timeline isn’t their friend in that case. The aide to Ukraine was released only after the whistleblower came forward and before Ukraine actually went on CNN to announce an investigation.
Another argument employs the “what aboutism” typical of the right-wing. “What about that time Obama said he would have more flexibility after the election?” That’s hardly comparable to bribery and, according to Boot, “both Biden and Obama were pursuing legitimate U.S. national security objectives. Neither sought any aid for their own campaigns.”
The GOP has also attempted to bring down Rep. Adam Schiff after he was given a fake transcript of the president’s call and read it aloud during a committee meeting. For that reason, the GOP says Schiff is a liar. While it hardly compares to Trump’s over 13,000 obvious lies since taking office, a prosecutor of the case isn’t the witness. He’ll call credible witnesses to tell their own stories.
“Attacking a prosecutor hardly exonerates a defendant — in fact, it’s usually a sign the defendant doesn’t have a case on the merits,” wrote Boot.
Finally, Trump’s aides have said that the impeachment is merely an attempt to reverse the 2016 election. It’s a ridiculous claim given Republicans are the ones voting whether or not to remove the president. If they find the evidence compelling enough to remove Trump, Hillary Clinton will not then be given the presidency like the runner-up to a Miss America pageant. The Constitution outlines the lines of presidential succession, of which Clinton is not listed.
Boot closed by saying that if a great historian like Victor Davis Hanson can’t come up with legitimate arguments against impeachment, the GOP is fighting a losing battle.