GOP senators seem confident impeachment has taught Trump a lesson. But the president’s history suggests otherwise: report
During President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Republicans have found different ways to defend the president: some have insisted that he did absolutely nothing wrong with Ukraine — while Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has asserted that Trump’s actions, although “inappropriate,” did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. Some Republicans who share Alexander’s perspective are hoping that Trump won’t make the same type of mistake again, but according to the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake, Trump might not have learned his lesson.
“As President Trump’s impeachment trial winds down,” Blake reports in a February 3 article, “the argument from many Senate Republicans is trending in a very specific direction: what he did was perhaps wrong, but it wasn’t impeachable. The message to Trump seems to be: please don’t do it again. They sound awfully certain that he won’t, despite little reason to believe Trump will be chastened by this.”
Alexander, unlike other Republicans, has acknowledged that House Democrats proved their allegations against Trump and that the president did ask a foreign government (Ukraine) to investigate a political rival: former Vice President Joe Biden — an action the Tennessee Republican considers “inappropriate” but not deserving of impeachment.
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Blake notes, Alexander was asked by host Chuck Todd if Trump will view his acquittal as a signal that it’s OK to do that type of thing again; Alexander responded, “I don’t think so. I hope not. I mean, enduring an impeachment is something that nobody should like, even the president said he didn’t want that on his resumé. I don’t blame him. So, if a call like that gets you an impeachment, I would think you would think twice before you did it again.”
Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa has also expressed hopes that Trump has learned his lesson. Blake stresses, however, that the Ukraine scandal followed the Mueller report — and that Trump didn’t learn his lesson from the Russia investigation.
“It has been noted often that the July 25 call on which Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch those politically advantageous investigations happened literally the day after special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testified to Congress,” Blake explains. “So, Trump had essentially just closed the book on a lengthy, arduous two-year investigation that began with questions about seeking foreign interference in a U.S. election, and he immediately set about seeking foreign help on a matter that could impact the next election."
Moreover, Blake writes, Trump recommended that China’s government investigate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, on October 3 — a “suggestion” that “came just one week after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) launched the impeachment.”
In light of his history, Blake concludes, it’s difficult to share Alexander and Ernst’s confidence that Trump has learned his lesson.