Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial doesn’t kick off until February 9, but earlier this week, we got a little preview of how things are going to play out. Spoiler alert: The vast majority of Republicans are going to vote to acquit him while trotting out bullshit excuses for why he shouldn’t be held accountable for inciting a violent riot that left five people dead. Hoping to scrap the trial entirely, 45 Republicans voted on Tuesday to dismiss the proceedings as unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president (never mind the fact that he was impeached by the House while still in office, and the chamber could’ve done the trial right away but Mitch McConnell refused). They were unsuccessful, but the fact that just five GOP senators agreed with Democrats that a trial should be held bodes poorly for a conviction, as the two-thirds majority necessary to send a message that coups won’t be tolerated would require 17 Republicans to either grow a conscience in the next 13 days or receive one as a transplant, which their bodies would undoubtedly reject.
Republicans are not just content with letting Trump get away with murder, though; they also want the country to accept their extremely bad faith excuses for why he should face no repercussions whatsoever. For instance, on Tuesday night, Ted Cruz appeared on Fox News to explain that he’d be voting to acquit because (1) impeachment, a process enshrined in the Constitution, is “petty,” and (2) it’s a slippery slope from impeaching Donald Trump for crimes committed during his presidency to impeaching all living former presidents. “They hate Donald Trump,” Cruz told Sean Hannity. “For anyone who hadn’t been paying attention, they made it very, very clear. And look, these are the same Democrats who four years ago in 2017—actually, in December of 2016, before Trump was sworn in—said they wanted to impeach him. They’ve wanted to impeach him from the beginning. They did it a year ago.” Referring to Trump’s first impeachment, Cruz said he felt like he was stuck in Groundhog Day, refusing to acknowledge the fact that perhaps it was because Trump continued to commit impeachable offenses. “Apparently every January we’re going to be doing another impeachment,” he said. “So I guess next year, I don’t know, maybe it’ll be the impeachment of Jimmy Carter, or the impeachment of Bill Clinton, or the impeachment of Barack Obama, because that’s what we do in Januaries.”
Honestly? Cruz doesn’t even know why we’re still talking about this.
Cruz’s insistence that everyone should just move on probably has not only do to with his fealty to Trump— the guy who called his wife ugly— but the fact that he personally gave credence to baseless claims of voter fraud by objecting to the certification of Joe Biden’s win and would thus like Congress to certify that whipping a mob into a violent frenzy is a-OK.
Cruz’s “get over it” take follows commentary from his equally shameless colleagues like Lindsey Graham, who last week suggested that the actual person who should be on trial for impeachment is Nancy Pelosi.
Graham is also supposedly worried about the precedent set by impeaching ex-presidents, huffing on Fox News earlier this month: “If this becomes the norm, be careful what you wish for today. Under this theory [of] the radical left, if you can impeach a president after they’re out of office, why don’t we impeach George Washington? He owned slaves. Where does this stop?”
Meanwhile, in the weeks since the attack on the Capitol, Trump has refused to apologize for his actions, which included spending months spreading falsehoods about election fraud and telling his supporters gathered outside the White House on January 6 to confront the lawmakers certifying Joe Biden’s win and to “fight like hell.”