Liz Cheney’s problems pile up

“Liz Cheney was once considered the future of the GOP. Now she’s fighting to keep her political career alive.

After voting to impeach Donald Trump last week, the highest-ranking woman in the House GOP finds herself at risk of losing her leadership post; staring down a pro-Trump primary challenge; and censured by some of her own party back home in Wyoming.

The most immediate threat to Cheney — a push by Trump loyalists to oust her as conference chair — has gained momentum inside the House GOP, although the process is complicated and could still sputter out. But at least 107 Republicans, or just over a majority, have communicated to the leaders of that effort that they would support removing Cheney from leadership on a secret ballot, according to multiple GOP sources involved in the effort. Others are threatening to boycott future conference meetings if she remains in power.”

“If Cheney does lose her post, it will be the latest sign that the Trumpification of the Republican Party isn’t stopping anytime soon, even after the ex-president flew off to Mar-a-Lago with a disgraced legacy in Washington. Some say the Cheney fight has already become a proxy battle for the heart and soul of the splintered GOP.”

Rep. Liz Cheney has backed impeaching Trump — and even Mitch McConnell may be open to it

“Cheney is the highest-ranking Republican to commit to backing impeachment so far. In a scathing statement, she wrote that “the President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.”

Cheney’s statement continues: “The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Not long before Cheney’s statement, Rep. John Katko (NY) became the first elected Republican member of Congress to commit to backing this impeachment. “To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said in his own statement. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action.” A third House Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL), announced his support for impeachment, too.”

Congress flummoxed by firing of top intel watchdog

“Trump has defended the firing, telling reporters on Saturday during a White House coronavirus task force briefing that the longtime public official was a “total disgrace” for the way he handled a whistleblower complaint that led to the president’s impeachment.”

“Meanwhile, Atkinson released a lengthy statement Sunday night about his firing, asserting that Trump removed him simply for doing his job.
“It is hard not to think that the president’s loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General,” Atkinson wrote.

Democrats have condemned the firing as an abuse of power and a brazen act of politically motivated retribution by a president emboldened after the Senate acquitted him in his impeachment trial. Republicans have been tepid in their criticism of the action, but some, including Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said the firing “demands an explanation,” while others largely deferred to the president’s unorthodox leadership style.”

Why Trump’s acquittal will damage US foreign policy

“That clear abuse of power for Trump’s own political gain led the Democratic-majority House to impeach the president. Afterward, the Republican-held Senate chose not to investigate further by declining to call any witnesses in its trial of the president and is expected to acquit him.

This means that, ultimately, the impeachment system designed to keep the top levels of the US government from descending into lawlessness has failed.

That, as former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and others say, will make it harder for the US to tell other nations to follow America’s lead.”

“In an ideal America, Trump would receive a severe reprimand for abusing his power and his corrupt practices, like using the presidency to enrich himself and his family. Even if short of impeachment, Republicans could’ve placed severe political pressure on Trump by showing him their support has limits.

That’s not what happened. Instead, Trump’s party will be responsible for letting him get away with the Ukraine scandal basically unpunished.

He has been formally impeached, and that in itself is significant regardless of whether or not he’s removed from office, but given that no House Republicans voted for impeachment, Trump and his allies can argue (and have) that it was merely a partisan political ploy and not the serious rebuke for his behavior it is supposed to be.

It’s worse when considering one of the arguments Trump’s legal team has made: that a president can basically do whatever he wants in order to get reelected if he believes his reelection is good for the country.”

Susan Collins’s rationale for acquitting Trump aged poorly before she could even cast her vote

“Following a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday in which she announced she’ll vote to acquit, Collins told Norah O’Donnell of CBS that she believes Trump “has learned from this case” and “will be much more cautious in the future.”

Getting impeached “is a pretty big lesson,” Collins said — the implication being that Trump will be chastened going forward from trying to pervert diplomacy into an opposition research opportunity, as he did with the Ukrainian government.”

“Trump has spent five months insisting that a phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that’s at the heart of his impeachment — one in which Trump implicitly linked military aid to Ukraine with the country helping him with investigations of his political rivals — is “perfect.””

“look at the circumstances surrounding the Zelensky call. It happened on July 25 — one day after special counsel Robert Mueller wound down his investigation of Trump by testifying to Congress and saying Trump could be indicted after his term for obstructing justice because of his interference with the Russia investigation.

But instead of responding to the end of the Russia investigation by cooling his jets, Trump was on the phone with the Ukrainian president the very next day trying to solicit political favors — the very same conduct that fueled suspicions about his Russia dealings in the first place.”

“Trump told reporters during an off-the-record lunch on Tuesday that, indeed, he doesn’t feel he has any lessons to learn from getting impeached.”

What Unites Republicans May Be Changing. Same With Democrats.

“Republicans on Capitol Hill are standing firmly behind Trump because GOP voters and GOP activists and elites are demanding that they do so. There just isn’t much room to break with the president of your party if close to 90 percent of voters in the party approve of him and many of those voters get their news from sources strongly supportive of that president.

Why are Republican voters and elites so strongly aligned with Trump? There’s not a simple answer, but I think identity — rather than ideology — is a big part of it. Trump is defending the identities of people who align themselves with the GOP, and this is a more powerful connection and reason to back him than pure ideological concerns. In defending Trump, conservative voters are really defending themselves.”

Ted Cruz now: Quid pro quo “doesn’t matter.” Ted Cruz before: Quid pro quo talk is “hearsay.”

“former National Security Adviser John Bolton is reportedly prepared to testify he has first-hand knowledge of a quid pro quo in which President Donald Trump linked the release of held-up military aid to Ukraine to the government there helping him with investigations aimed at damaging his domestic political foes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told Republican senators on Tuesday he doesn’t have the votes to block Democrats and four Republicans from compelling Bolton’s testimony during the ongoing impeachment trial.

So now that it’s becoming harder to deny the quid pro quo, Republican senators are learning to love it — and using the Trump-friendly confines of Fox News to downplay Bolton’s revelations before he even has the chance to testify.”

“before news about Bolton’s position broke on Sunday, the Trumpworld line was that there was no evidence one ever existed. For instance, just two weeks ago, Cruz dismissed quid pro allegations as mere “hearsay” coming from “people who had no direct evidence, witnesses who’d never even met President Trump.”

But now that news has broken about Bolton claiming to have first-hand knowledge of a quid pro quo based on a conversation he had with the president, Cruz has suddenly moved the goalposts to “quid pro quo doesn’t matter.”

“Republicans learning to love the quid pro quo illustrates how far they’re willing to go to defend Trump. They have no shame about contradicting statements they made just weeks ago, interpreting Trump’s actions in a way inconsistent with the known facts”

The Senate Can (but Probably Won’t) Fill the Gaps in the Case for a Ukraine Quid Pro Quo

“While these facts are pretty damning, open-minded senators (assuming any exist) would be interested in further exploring Trump’s motives by examining relevant documents and hearing from officials (such as Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton) who directly interacted with the president before, during, and after the aid freeze. Maybe the inferences that Sondland and other underlings drew about Trump’s reason for blocking the money were mistaken. Maybe Trump’s after-the-fact explanations, however implausible they might seem, are true. But unless several Republican senators side with Democrats in seeking additional evidence, those crucial questions will remain unanswered during Trump’s trial.”