Florida paper blasts GOP Sen. Rick Scott’s 'full partisan' defense of Trump in scathing editorial
If the impeachment inquiry inspired by President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone conservation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky does lead to a full House vote on articles of impeachment and — after that, a trial in the U.S. Senate — many GOP senators would be almost certain to vote “not guilty” regardless of what the evidence shows. Sen. Rick Scott, based on remarks this week, appears to be one of them. And the South Florida Sun Sentinel, in a blistering editorial, asserts that Scott’s comments are showing him to be as reflexively partisan a senator as they feared he would be.
In the 2018 midterms, the editorial notes, the Sentinel’s editorial board endorsed Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson and predicted that if Scott won the election, he would “do Trump’s bidding” and “further the political tribalism that’s dividing this country.” Nelson narrowly lost that election and was voted out of office, and the Sentinel cites Scott’s defense of Trump this week as proof that the board was “correct” in its prediction.
A partial transcript confirms troubling reports that Trump, on July 25, tried to pressure Zelensky into digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden — who might be his opponent 2020 — and his son Hunter Biden. Scott, the Sentinel argued, showed his “true colors” and “went full partisan” when he discussed the Ukraine scandal during an appearance on Fox News Radio on Wednesday.
When Scott was asked if he found Trump’s conservation with Zelensky troubling, he defended Trump by quickly changing the subject and going into a tirade against the Obama Administration. Scott, formerly Florida’s governor, said that Obama tried to bully his state into accepting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion — seemingly implying that wanting Florida to embrace Obamacare was somehow comparable to Trump threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless Zelensky gave him dirt on the Bidens.
“To summarize,” the Sentinel says in its editorial, “Scott changed the subject from Trump seeking political favors through Ukraine’s president to President Obama, who’s been out of office for almost three years.”
On Thursday, the editorial adds, Scott continued his naked partisanship by tweeting, “Democrats are on a mission to impeach @POTUS. It’s their entire legislative agenda. They lost the 2016 election & can’t get over it.”
The editorial lambasts Florida’s other Republican senator, Marco Rubio, for claiming that Trump has done nothing wrong and cites Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska as two Republican senators who, unlike Scott and Rubio, “seem to be resisting the impulse to rally behind the president.”
The Sentinel concludes its editorial on a scathing note by comparing Scott and Rubio — quite unfavorably — to the late Florida Sen. Ed Gurney, who died in 1996 at the age of 82. During the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, Gurney remained a Richard Nixon loyalist even when other Republicans in Congress were abandoning the president in droves.
“In an editorial last month,” the Sentinel asserts, “we implored Scott and Rubio to consider the legacy of Ed Gurney, the senator from Florida who defended Richard Nixon until the very end — and earned a place in history as the disgraced president’s chief Senate bootlicker. They’re continuing down that path today, seemingly mindless not just of their own legacies but of the nation’s well-being.”