'Pretending to read materials': Tom Cotton brags he wasn’t paying attention during Trump impeachment trial

'Pretending to read materials': Tom Cotton brags he wasn’t paying attention during Trump impeachment trial
Tom Cotton in 2013 (Gage Skidmore)

Although four presidents in U.S. history have become targets of articles of impeachment — Democrats Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton and Republicans Richard Nixon and Donald Trump — the only one who was impeached twice was Trump. Nixon never faced an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate; in August 1974, Nixon resigned before the impeachment process could get that far. But Trump faced two impeachment trials, the first of which occurred in early 2020 — and one of the many Republican senators who voted to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment was Arkansas’ Tom Cotton.

Cotton, in January 2020, made it sound as though he was carefully considering the evidence that Democrats were presenting during Trump’s first impeachment trial and said that he had “heard from 17 witnesses” and “received more than 28,000 pages of documents.” But in his forthcoming book, “Only the Strong: Reversing the Left’s Plot to Sabotage American Power,” Cotton — according to The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly — “boasts that he spent his time refusing to pay attention” and was “pretending to read materials relevant to the president’s trial” while “hiding his real reading matter under a fake cover.”

The Guardian has obtained a copy of the book, which is due out on Tuesday, November 1 — and according to Pengelly, Cotton writes, “My aides delivered a steady flow of papers and photocopied books, hidden underneath a fancy cover sheet labeled ‘Supplementary Impeachment Materials’, so nosy reporters sitting above us in the Senate gallery couldn’t see what I was reading. They probably would’ve reported that I wasn’t paying attention to the trial.”

READ MORE:New book details the tension between Mitch McConnell and Lisa Murkowski over Trump’s first impeachment

Cotton also writes, “The outcome of the impeachment trial was a foregone conclusion, and it wouldn’t impact the daily lives of normal Americans.”

Pengelly reports, “Cotton is now among senators, governors and former members of the Trump Administration jostling for position in the developing contest for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. Publishing a book is a traditional preparatory step.”

While Trump’s second impeachment had to do with the January 6, 2021 insurrection, the first resulted from his interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2019. Trump was indicted in the U.S. House of Representatives on two articles of impeachment after trying to pressure Zelensky into helping him dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and, House Democrats said, withholding military aid to Ukraine in the hope of receiving that dirt. Biden, in 2019, was the person Trump feared the most as a possible 2020 Democratic presidential nominee — and with good reason. Biden, in 2020, did received his party’s presidential nomination and defeated Trump by more than 7 million in the popular vote in the general election.

READ MORE: 'It’s about flipping the Senate': New book exposes GOP efforts to bail out Trump during his first impeachment

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