Max Burns/NBC Think:
Trump impeachment trial video means GOP can’t pretend the former president is innocent
Republicans are criticizing Democrats for playing politics with a trial they know will end in acquittal. But the proceedings’ importance goes beyond the outcome.nd, of course, even if the outcome is the acquittal of Trump, it’s important to show Americans — particularly Republican voters — what their GOP leaders are willing to turn a blind eye to. The evidence presented by the Democratic House impeachment managers damns congressional Republicans for making terms with the existential threat of right-wing extremism instead of leaving the party in protest. And regardless of how lawmakers vote, Wednesday’s honest accounting will play a critical role in helping our nation assess the sweeping damage Trumpism has inflicted on our institutions.
Hold Them All Accountable
The people who stormed the Capitol are facing the music. It’s up to us to make sure that the people who incited them do, too.
Finding 17 Republican senators to convict Trump is a Herculean task, not least because many of them joined him in feeding the lie that brought these people to the Capitol in the first place. In that regard, this trial is unique for having members of the jury who are not just not impartial, but are both witnesses and accomplices to the crime.
Remember: Prior to the attack, more than a quarter of Senate Republicans had publicly announced plans to object to certifying the election results. Many of them are now trying to retcon these objections as “just asking questions” and not an attempt to overturn the election itself. But their calls for investigations into voter fraud and irregularities—despite dozens of court losses and then-Attorney General Bill Barr’s assurances that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud—were nothing less than hype-man interjections meant to bolster Trump’s claims that he “won in a landslide” and that the election was being stolen.
Not My Party: Guilty, Guilty
But this was different: Never before in this country has a sitting president tried to steal an election to stay in power. Yes, it didn’t work. Yes, the way he went about it was clownish and ridiculous. But Officer Brian Sicknick is dead because of Trump’s actions. Others are gravely injured. The vice president and Democratic members of Congress nearly suffered the same fate.
This all happened because Trump supporters took him seriously and literally.
At 6:01 PM, hours after the carnage, Trump tweeted this: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace.”
No! You made this happen, Donald. You did this! And it could have been worse.
The Unbearable Weakness of Kevin McCarthy
To make sense of all this we need to go back a decade to 2011 when John Boehner became House Speaker. Boehner found the job notoriously difficult and eventually resigned in a mix of disgust and relief. But the reality of the situation is important to understand. The 2011-17 House majority was run not by its nominal leaders but by the Freedom Caucus, a sort of proto-Trumpite group, and to a lesser degree by the Republican Study Committee, a sort of earlier version of the Freedom Caucus which is now basically just the mainstream congressional GOP. It served that proto-Trumpite core of representatives purposes to have the nominal leadership in the hands of a ‘mainstream’ Republican like John Boehner – both for the sake of appearances and to be free of accountability.
Boehner had all the responsibility and none of the power and the Freedom Caucus folks had all the power and none of the responsibility – a very nice deal for the guys in the Freedom Caucus! This was made possible by the fact that the proto-Trump core of the House caucus had little in the way of a positive legislative agenda. They mostly wanted to stop things from happening – a revealing parallel with President Trump himself when he came to the White House. The relationship between three or four dozen proto-Trump representatives and Boehner parallels the larger reality we’ve discussed in other contexts: that the GOP is basically a rightist, revanchist party like France’s National Front or Germany’s Alternative for Germany masquerading as a center-right party of government like the Tories in the UK or the Christian Democrats in Germany. For that reason having a Boehner type with nominal authority was a good deal. And the Freedom Caucus had a veto over everything anyway. So no downside.
Eli Stokols/LA Times:
‘Not a pundit,’ Biden ignores impeachment trial to focus on his priorities
“Joe Biden is the president. He’s not a pundit,” Jen Psaki told the 14 reporters seated before her. “He’s not going to opine on the back-and-forth arguments in the Senate, nor is he watching them.”
Biden echoed that assertion moments later as he sat in the Oval Office to discuss his top priority, a $1.9-trillion coronavirus relief package, with a group of business leaders. A day later when Psaki appeared in the briefing room, reporters pressed her about Biden’s refusal to comment on the “historic” events occurring in the Senate. One, seemingly incredulous, asked just how the public “should interpret his silence?”
“The American public,” Psaki said, “should read it as his commitment on delivering on exactly what they elected him to do, which is not to be a commentator on the daily developments of an impeachment trial.”
ICE ‘Deep State’ is blocking Biden’s quest for justice for refugees
So far, Biden is finding that abruptly reversing U.S. immigration policy is like turning around a battleship using the tiny, loose steering wheel of the USS Minnow. His highest-profile immigration move — an executive order pausing deportations for 100 days — has been blocked by a federal judge in Texas whom Trump had appointed just last year. In this vacuum of uncertainty, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE — still under an interim boss hastily installed in the last week of the Trump administration — and the Border Patrol, whose rank-and-file officers zealously supported POTUS 45, have seemingly sped up deportations and other enforcement actions.
Republicans face party punishment back home for questioning Trump’s role in Capitol attack
The big picture: State and county Republican apparatuses throughout the country are punishing those in their own party who want to hold the former president accountable, signaling that Trump’s grasp on the GOP remains unfaded.
Sen. Bill Cassidy is the latest member to receive condemnation after the Louisiana senator sided with Democrats on a vote over the constitutionality to impeach a former president.