“Trump has instructed aides not to pay [Rudy] Giuliani’s legal fees,” The Washington Post reported this morning. Talk about returning to form; a lifetime of screwing contractors interrupted by five garbage years in politics is getting back to the business of screwing contractors. If anyone needed a vivid indicator that “President Donald Trump” will shortly be past tense, that sentence is like a billboard visible from the moon. Yes, Virginia: This, too, shall pass.
There has never been a day like yesterday. A sitting president was impeached for massively criminal behavior for the second time within the same 13-month span it usually takes a giraffe in the wild to gestate a calf. There is a baby giraffe out there somewhere, born last night, who will never know a world where Donald Trump was not impeached twice in one term.
“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” intoned House GOP minority leader Kevin McCarthy with all the ersatz solemnity of a cat covered in feathers and cream. Outside the chamber, the area around the Capitol slowly but surely became a living advertisement for fence-makers and barricade manufacturers, and my goodness, how the troops poured in. Thus, the fruits of the labors of men like McCarthy were on display, and may remain so indefinitely.
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Ten whole Republicans joined in the endeavor to remove from office a president who very publicly took out a hit on his own vice president and the entire legislative branch. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, House Republican conference chair and daughter to one of the most odious war criminals ever to draw a level breath, telegraphed her intention to vote for impeachment early in the process. She was hailed a hero on television by a parade of Lincoln Project Republicans desperate to remind us all that the GOP is really not a party of insurrectionist would-be assassins, you guys. They swear it’s true.
Certain revelations, however, have risen to challenge that claim. Ever since a violent Republican mob gained access to one of the most highly-protected buildings on Earth with all the difficulty of water passing through a sieve, many have wondered if they had inside assistance. A number of Capitol Police officers not involved with the attempted overthrow of democracy certainly seem to think so.
“After seeing one of their colleagues killed last Wednesday, [some] Capitol Police officers are angry that Republican members of Congress refuse to submit to the security changes put in place since then,” reports Buzzfeed News, “and say they wouldn’t even be surprised if some lawmakers helped organize the attack.” Said two officers quoted in the same report: “There are definitely some members who need to be held to account once an investigation shows the totality of circumstances.”
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot, is positive she saw some of her Republican colleagues giving guided tours of the Capitol before the attack, and some of those “tourists” may have been Trump loyalists who returned the next day knowing a startling amount about the layout of that huge and confusing building. “Reconnaissance,” she called it, and a pile of Democratic House Reps backed her up. As the son of a man who spent a preponderance of his Vietnam combat tour in helicopters, I can say with deep assurance that one thing those chopper cats know is recon.
Tourists in Washington, D.C., are normally about as strange as butter on toast, but these are not normal times. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Capitol is closed to tours, and has been since March, unless you have an elected chaperone. The day before the riot, apparently, enjoyed an influx of GOP-guided visitors uncommonly large enough for several Reps to take note. They have memorialized their concerns in a letter to the Capitol Police.
Staffers in Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s office followed protocol when the Visigoths started battering the doors down. First thing: Hit the “panic button” every House office enjoys as a matter of basic security. “Every panic button in my office had been torn out — the whole unit,” one Pressley staffer told the Boston Globe.
What took place on January 6 was more than simply some public far-right, toxic-masculine orgy. More and more accounts are raising serious questions about whether some cops and House Republicans were in on this thing, and came closer than most seem willing to admit to decapitating — if not obliterating — a branch of the federal government. The names Gosar, Brooks and Biggs keep bubbling up as potential House accomplices, but Rep. Sherrill has not yet named names. I expect that will be coming soon.
As for the impeachment itself, the deal has gone down, again. Next up is the still-GOP-controlled Senate, which is presently festooned with stop signs. “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday threw cold water on the idea of holding an impeachment trial during Trump’s last days in office,” reports The Washington Post, “stating that it would not be possible for the chamber to complete those proceedings before Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.”
And so much for all that. There was a definite disturbance in the Republican Force this past Tuesday when McConnell indicated that he believes Trump should be impeached. In point of fact, Trump was impeached, and now McConnell is not showing anything that resembles urgent enthusiasm about seeing him convicted and removed. One last time, the Majority Leader managed his way to the far side of a Trump-dealt inside straight. Those expecting more from the man have not done the reading.
As far as matters of true historical import go, yesterday’s Impeachment 2.0 may turn out to be less weighty than the video Trump released of himself flushing his loyal followers away like a dead goldfish. “I want to be very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week,” he practically moaned in that flatline monotone he deploys whenever he couldn’t possibly give less of a shit about what he was saying. “Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country.”
Of course, QAnon devotees have already “explained” away this spectacular public betrayal: The video was a “deepfake” sham, because Fearless Leader would never treat his most loyal allies like so much gravel to walk over on the way toward avoiding civil and criminal liability. Some will surely accept this as gospel, because if you already believe lizard pedophiles are running things in Washington, getting to “the vid was faked” is easier than farting in bed.
For the rest, though, Trump’s announcement that the thousands who literally carried his banner into the Capitol are not really his people anymore amounts to a grim look in the mirror. Those folks have spent years wallowing in the idea that all is not as it seems. Now, they are enduring the solemn agony of being right.