Monday, November 18, 2019

The Belated Conversion of Former Republicans

While the increase of the number of Never Trumpers has been encouraging to watch, one thing that most of them are not quick to confess is that for far too long, most were apologists for toxic elements of the GOP base and GOP policies aimed at benefiting the few at the expense of the many as symbolized by both the GOP efforts to destroy the Affordable Health Care Act and the Trump/GOP tax cuts that did nothing other than provide a huge windfall to the very wealthy and large corporations while exploding the federal debt in the process.  And then there was the dishonesty and endless lies of the GOP that long preceded the rise of Trump.  The GOP has now become synonymous with lying and not just due to the endless lies emanating from the White House. The current impeachment inquiry has brought the dishonesty of the GOP to the forefront as laid out in a column in the Washington Post by a former Republican conservative who is among the Never Trump ranks.  Here are highlights:

When listening to President Trump and fellow Republicans throw around accusations against Democrats and the media or advance defenses for Trump’s impeachable conduct, there is a better than even chance they are misleading if not downright lying. In some cases, we discover the lies because other individuals are caught lying.
Roger Stone was convicted, among other things, of lying to Congress about his conversations with WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange. He falsely claimed: He had no emails, documents or texts relating to WikiLeaks; he never sought damaging information (i.e., emails) about Hillary Clinton; never contacted WikiLeaks through intermediaries; and never contacted the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks. The last lie — denying contacts with the Trump campaign — raises the question as to whether President Trump lied in responses to Robert S. Mueller II.
At the trial we learned about Stone’s numerous contacts with the campaign: Rick Gates, who served as Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, testified Tuesday that Stone began discussing Clinton leaks with the campaign in April 2016 and that from May onward Gates understood Stone to be the campaign’s intermediary with WikiLeaks. By July 2016, Gates testified, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said he was updating Trump and others regularly and directed Gates to keep following up with Stone. After Trump ended one phone call from Stone at the end of that month, Gates testified, the future president said to Gates that “more information would be coming.”
In his written answers, however, Trump claimed he had “no recollection” of conversations with Stone about WikiLeaks nor did he recall knowing Stone had discussed WikiLeaks’s email drops with the campaign. Perhaps Trump’s memory is addled; if not, it appears he lied to Mueller.
Likewise, in the Ukraine matter multiple witnesses gave testimony that suggests that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland has been telling falsehoods under oath. Some he has remedied, . . . However, we now know from at least one other witness that Sondland’s denial that he spoke to the president or to the State Department was false. (He spoke to both.) One wonders if he’ll share a similar fate as Stone, the former Trump confidant who this week was found guilty on charges of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale has documented 45 Trump lies concerning Ukraine . . . . Other Trump lies include his denial that United States military aid was held up, his bizarre accusations that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) was the whistleblower’s source and his unfounded allegations that former vice president Joe Biden “stole” millions of dollars from foreign countries and pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor when Hunter Biden was still under investigation.
House Republicans continually traffic in lies — e.g., Ukraine interfered with our election, Joe Biden’s conduct pressuring removal of a delinquent prosecutor was illegal or corrupt, Trump was concerned about Ukraine’s corruption in general.
On procedure, they’ve lied about the depositions (routinely used in investigations), claiming they violate “due process” or amount to a “Soviet-style” star chamber.
At times, Republicans deliberately ignore evidence in front of their eyes. They seem to have settled on the theory that Trump never communicated to Zelensky that aid was tied to investigations of Biden, Burisma and Trump’s crackpot Ukraine interference conspiracy. Trump, however, raised these items in the phone call. . . . .
 Republicans’ lies are so numerous and obvious that one requires only a minimal amount of fact-checking to see that they lie because they have no truthful factual defenses nor valid constitutional argument. The facts are the facts: Trump conditioned aid to an ally in a war for its sovereignty on production of dirt to smear a political rival. He has refused to allow key witnesses to produce documents or to testify, thereby obstructing Congress. He has sought to intimidate and threaten witnesses including the whistleblower and Marie Yovanovitch, sending out the message you will be targeted and smeared if you provide evidence against him.
As for the Constitution, we know that “bribery,” enumerated as one of the grounds for impeachment in the parlance of the Framers, includes asking for or giving personal favors in exchange for political acts. That is precisely what occurred here. Obstruction and witness intimidation are obviously "high crimes."
House Republicans have become so invested in crackpot theories, bogus procedural complains and constitutional illiteracy that they will never recognize the president’s wrongdoing. They are as incapable of upholding their oath, which requires impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors or bribery, as he is. Both Trump and his House enablers are unfit to serve since personal and political considerations obliterate their ability to detect the truth and thereby to uphold their public obligations.
It remains an open question as to whether Senate Republicans are willing to ignore and distort reality so as to avoid voting to convict a president of their own party. Unfortunately, we find it highly unlikely that more than a few (if that many) would concede that Trump and the right-wing echo chamber that protects him have been spinning a web of lies for nearly three years.

The GOP web of lies goes back much further in time.  It is a shame that the Never Trumpers did not begin speaking out one to two decades ago.  Trump is the culmination of a pattern of lies that has stretched out for years. 

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