For a long time, Bill Clinton lied about sex. For a long time, prominent Democrats faced the camera and solemnly declared that they believed Clinton’s lies. But, eventually, Clinton and his supporters reached a point where they were forced to admit the truth. There ensued a national debate about whether perjury about sex should or should not be considered impeachable. It was a matter of judgment then, and, IMHO, it’s a matter of judgment today. But, after as good deal of toing and froing, the majority of Americans reached a consensus. And that consensus answer was no, committing perjury about sex should not be impeachable.
At this point in l’affaire ukrainienne, Republicans aren’t admitting the proven facts. And they may never move on—instead, putting their faith in gaslighting, bluster, and distraction.
It is time for Democrats to begin to argue that, if they can’t admit the facts, then they are plaining admitting that the facts show impeachable conduct. It’s time to argue that Republicans are waiving the bad-but-not-impeachable defense.
A Little Poetry
In the meantime, please join me in savoring Jonathan Chait’s poetic dissection of poor Stephen Castor, Esquire:
The House Republican impeachment defense of President Trump has been an experiment in pointillistic surrealism, in which disconnected pieces of information — some true, some false — are slushed together into a dreamlike haze in which nothing is certain. The most emblematic moment in this defense came during Monday’s impeachment hearings when Steve Castor, the Republican lead counsel, answered a series of simple, obvious questions about President Trump’s motives to discredit Joe Biden.
Or at least the questions were expected to be simple and obvious. In Castor’s hands, they were rendered obtuse and enigmatic.
“Would you agree that Joe Biden was a leading contender to face President Trump in 2020?,” asked the Democratic lawyer. Castor shook his head, “I wouldn’t agree with that.” …
Castor refused even to concede that Trump had asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. For the record, here is the portion of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky in which Trump requested an investigation of the Bidens:
“The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
The Democratic lawyer displayed this passage and asked Castor, “President Trump was asking Ukrainian president Zelensky to have the Ukrainian officials ‘look into’ the Bidens, correct?”
“I don’t think the record supports that … I think it’s ambiguous,” Castor insisted.
Words can mean anything. Maybe Biden isn’t actually running for president at all.
A Little Analysis
I find it demeaning and offputting to spend my time dissecting nonsense in great detail. Fortunately, Kim Wehle, a law professor and former prosecutor has done it for us. If this sort of thing appeals to you, please check out The Trump Defenders Make Their (Weak) Case: They still can’t explain why the pr4sident withheld aid from Ukraine.