Longtime conservative scorches GOP senators over threat to treat Trump impeachment oath like a 'joke'
DSen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) -- CNN "New Day" screenshot

In a highly critical column for the conservative Bulwark, longtime Republican stalwart Bill Kristol lashed out at GOP senators who he believes are just going through the motions of signing an oath to be fair and impartial in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump while planning to exonerate the president at the earliest possible chance.

In a column titled, "Is the Oath a Joke?" the editor-at-large for the Bulwark, along with University of Texas professor Jeffrey Tulis, questioned whether GOP lawmakers really believe in all the things they profess to believe in.

"Last Thursday, senators swore an oath to 'do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws' in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Does that oath mean anything? Anything at all?" they wrote before answering their own questions.

"Citizens can’t help but suspect the answer is no. Since the two Articles of Impeachment were approved by the House of Representatives last month, several Republican senators, following Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have publicly and expressly disavowed any intention to follow their new oath 'to do impartial justice' in the Senate impeachment trial," the piece continues. "Americans should be worried about the state of American politics when they see such corruption from some of our political leaders. They should be concerned by this demonstration of how much the corruption of Trump and Trumpism has infected major American institutions, now including the Senate—which is, by design, the most important institutional check against presidential abuses of power."

Noting that several GOP senators have claimed the impeachment trial is not like any other criminal trial and therefore the rules of impartiality don't apply, the authors shot down the attempt to avoid responsibility by calling it "nonsense."

"Mitch McConnell avoided explaining why the Constitution would require him to take a new oath if his view is correct. And he gave no explanation of just what that oath to be impartial actually means. Only in the upside-down world of Trumpism can taking an oath to be impartial mean that one need not be impartial," Kristol and Tulkis argued.

"Human beings will still be fallible, opinionated, even prejudiced.Indeed our Founders expected no less. But there is a big difference between lamentably falling short of the highest standard and actively scorning it. Right now, an overwhelming percentage of the majority party in the U.S. Senate isn’t falling short—it’s not even trying," they explained.

As the authors note, the Federalist Papers state: “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form.”

Using that as a jumping-off point, the authors conclude, "Are we today utterly lacking in such qualities? Or, might citizens press their Senators to summon up some buried residue of decency and a modicum of impartiality?"

You can read more here.