UPDATE: Well, that escalated quickly:
….If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019
You’ll want to ask Sen. Cory Gardner, but we’re pretty sure no one in the White House “gets a merit badge” for threatening civil war. It’s tough to imagine this getting much worse, unless of course said civil war were to actually, you know, begin.
If you consider prayer for the nation to be a worthwhile endeavor, now would be a good time.
CBS News reports on another grim milestone reached by the Trump administration today, less then two weeks since the present full-stop crisis over President Donald Trump’s manipulation of the Ukrainian government to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden began:
More than half of Americans — and an overwhelming number of Democrats — say they approve of the fact that Congress has opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. But as the inquiry begins, there is no national consensus on how to assess the president’s actions…
Almost nine in 10 Democrats approve of the inquiry, and two-thirds strongly approve. Prior to the inquiry, some had wondered if taking up impeachment proceedings might divide a Democratic rank-and-file that has been long concerned with other policies like health care and guns. However, these findings suggest that it this is not the case: most moderate Democrats side with liberal Democrats in supporting impeachment proceedings. Of those who say they voted for a Democratic House candidate in 2018, nine in 10 feel this inquiry is necessary.
Characterizing the president’s actions in particular, just under one-third of Americans say the president’s handling of matters with Ukraine may have been improper but were nonetheless still legal. Just over a quarter, including most Republicans, says the president acted properly. Another four in 10, including most Democrats, feel he has acted illegally.
Despite the fact that a solid majority of Republicans believe President Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine to investigate Biden’s son were proper–or at least not impeachment-level offenses–the rapid shift in overall public opinion toward support for impeachment in only ten days underscores the straightforwardness of the case against Trump this time, compared to so many other scandals in Trump’s three years in office that arguably would have consumed less politically traumatic presidencies.
This rapid deterioration in Trump’s political outlook in the last ten days must be viewed in the context of the continuous rain of scandal that even preceded Trump’s election, with many Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado abandoning Trump in October of 2016 over the Access Hollywood rapey-tape–only to come crawling back after Trump’s unexpected minority-vote Electoral College victory. From the beginning of Trump’s presidency, fears that he would be in continuous violation of the constitutional Emoluments Clause as his properties raked in cash from foreign sources of influence have been proven right beyond the worst imaginations of his critics, and a lawsuit led by 200 Democrats in Congress is moving forward while Trump’s GOP defenders dismiss the suit as “presidential harassment.”
But as a freshman Senator trying to carve out a permanent place for himself in America’s
“august body” by serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, arguably no Senator up for re-election in 2020 has been derailed by Trump’s chaos presidency more than Sen. Cory Gardner. In three short years, Trump has made a joke of basically every foreign policy priority Gardner has laid claim to in office–and Gardner was been unwilling or unable to challenge Trump over any of it. Gardner calls for “maximum pressure” on North Korea, Trump gives Kim Jong Un concession-free binational summits. In a conversation hidden away on the same highly classified server as the conversation with the president of Ukraine, Trump reportedly told the Russians he “didn’t mind” their help winning the 2016 elections. But last April when the Mueller report came out, Gardner was determined to defend Trump at all costs:
“Look, it’s clear there were no merit badges earned at the White House for behavior,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) [Pols emphasis] in an interview downtown here. “You have to focus on the heart of this conclusion, which is there is no collusion, no cooperation. That’s where the focus ought to be and how we prepare for the next elections to protect us from Russian intrusion and interference.”
At this point, if Cory Gardner ever wants to claim he cares about protecting America “from Russian intrusion and interference” again, he has to take back three years of covering for Trump while pretending to show concern about Russian influence on American elections. It’s not possible without straining the bounds of credulity past their breaking point. With the current crisis over Ukraine, Gardner is even more exposed now as a politician who has regularly paid lip service to defending Ukrainian interests. How can Gardner possibly reconcile his support for Ukraine with Trump using hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine as a bargaining chip for personal political gain?
The answer is simple: Gardner can’t. Gardner’s credibility with all but Trump’s most blindly loyal defenders is hopelessly shot, and the Trump loyalists are already wary of Gardner’s doublespeak. And if Gardner tries to jettison Trump now to save his skin, he’ll alienate the Republican base and seal his political doom.
All of the credibility expended by Gardner in covering for Trump and his innumerable misdeeds, from “petty” offenses like targeting women of color in Congress for openly racist vilification to by-the-book high crimes and misdemeanors, has robbed him of the trustworthiness he needs now that this worst-yet and easily understood crisis of leadership has manifested. This is a moment that for three years, Democrats have eagerly anticipated and Republicans have dreaded.
If it was our job to plot a way out of this for Cory Gardner, we’d resign.