Republicans know Trump did it, and it was wrong — and they still don't care
Somehow, Sen. Mitt Romney—that Mitt Romney—has become the conscience of the Republican Party. But despite the announcement that Donald Trump really does now have an achievement all his own—the only person ever to have bipartisan support for his conviction in an impeachment trial—other Republicans have continued to keep up the most shallow pretense imaginable.
Not that Trump is innocent. They know he’s not. Not that this isn’t serious. They know it is.
They’re pretending that Trump is sorry. And they know he never will be.
Susan Collins took the first swing at Trump’s learning experience when she told CBS News that Trump had learned a "pretty big lesson" from the whole process of hearings and trial, and that she was sure he would be "much more cautious" about soliciting political slander from foreign governments in the future. "The president's call was wrong,” said Collins. “He should not have mentioned Joe Biden in it, despite his overall concern about corruption in Ukraine. The president of the United States should not be asking a foreign country to investigate a political rival. That is just improper. It was far from a perfect call."
Once he heard of this, Trump was immediately so contrite that he … immediately dismissed the idea that he had learned the first thing from his impeachment “lesson.” Instead, Trump showed that he had not moved a single inch from the place he started at the beginning of the whole scandal, calling his extortion “a perfect call.”
But, of course, Collins wasn’t alone. Lamar Alexander was first onboard the train of Republican senators acknowledging that the House managers had proven their case, and that Trump had in fact tried to force an allied nation into interfering in the 2020 election by withholding military assistance. Only Lamar! wasn’t about to do anything about it. Instead, he’ll go back to Tennessee, where people apparently say, “Yep, that looks like murder” and then go on about their business.
Lisa Murkowski was also on board the Yes He Did Express. She defended her refusal to call witnesses by saying that no witnesses were needed. Trump’s behavior was “shameful and wrong.” But not so shameful that Murkowski would do anything, such as allowing the public to hear the full case.
Those three, along with Romney, may have been the Republicans at the center of the will-they/won’t-they/of course they won’t when it came to witnesses, but they’re not the only ones willing to admit that Trump did a little criming. There’s also Rob Portman. “I believe that some of the president’s actions in this case—including asking a foreign country to investigate a potential political opponent and the delay of aid to Ukraine—were wrong and inappropriate, “ said Portman. Some of Trump’s actions in this case happened to be every action that the House managers placed in their articles of impeachment. Still, that doesn’t mean that Portman is going to do anything but collect his ticket to the afterparty.
Ben Sasse was one of the most Trump-supportive Republicans when it came to tossing softballs to Trump’s defense team. That didn’t stop him from declaring that “delaying the aid was inappropriate and wrong and shouldn't have happened." Neither should his vote to sustain Trump. But it will.
And then there’s Republican Majority Whip John Thune. Following the lead of America’s most unpopular senator, Thune declared that Trump was just inexperienced and naive. He’ll be sure to mend his ways and be more careful going forward. Quick: Someone ask Trump about that one.
The truth behind the Republican position is the one that was made clear when Murkowski and Alexander teamed up with Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham on Team Lickspittle: They do not give a damn. And from the excuses they’re providing, they also don’t give a damn who knows it.