Opinion writer

Republicans for the Rule of Law’s ad aptly demonstrates the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the right, which took the separation of powers seriously only when a Democrat was in the White House:

Republican hypocrisy is so glaring that one can only stare in amazement when self-proclaimed conservatives twist and turn to avoid confronting an out-of-control executive. Sometimes the display of spinelessness is downright embarrassing:

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think Republican leadership will, in the Senate, will allow for a vote on a resolution to try to block the emergency declaration? . . . 

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO.): I don’t think we have a choice. I think the way that ’74 law was written, the House has a vote, then we have to have a vote. It’s a privileged motion if it’s written correctly and I don’t have any reason to believe they won’t write it--

MARGARET BRENNAN: How will you vote?

SEN. BLUNT: --correctly. I- I don’t know yet. I don’t know yet. I don’t like the process. I don’t think that the emergency declaration law was written to deal with things that the president asked the Congress to do and then the Congress didn’t do. It’s never been used that way before. I want to look carefully at the law. I want to hear what the president’s lawyers have to say about it. I- I really think the president would have been better served by one, taking the money that he- he got in the bill he signed, two, using the transfer authority he had. And I am absolutely confident that those two amounts of money would be more money than could be spent between now and September the 30th. . . .

MARGARET BRENNAN: But in terms of clarifying what you just said, are you saying it is possible that what the president declared is unconstitutional?

SEN. BLUNT: No, no.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You believe he has full authorities to do this--

SEN. BLUNT: Well I don’t know that. . . .

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you could vote to try to block the president from moving forward with this emergency? You just haven't decided yet. Is that fair?

SEN. BLUNT: I think that's fair. I think that's fair, it's also fair to understand that the president says he'll veto whatever--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SEN. BLUNT: --passes the House and Senate. And so this will be decided in the courts. I think it’s highly unlikely that the veto would be overridden in the House and probably not overridden in the Senate, either one. And so it’s gonna be decided in the courts. And it’s- I think it’s a fairly- it’s a significant court decision

Good grief. Blunt, unfortunately, isn’t alone in his cowardly refusal to confront the president:

MARGARET BRENNAN: Border apprehensions are near a 50 year low. So when you’re talking about an emergency and- and you have border state governors tell you that’s just not what they’re seeing, how do you justify sending as much as 6,000 active duty troops?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-ILL.): Well what I didn’t see is a low in apprehension. I mean there were- there were beyond-  you’d get calls of --

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's according to Customs and Border Patrol.

REP. KINZINGER: That's fine. That's fine. I'm saying, what- from my experience there were many, many groups that we would see on technology with camera radar or something like that that we could not go address because there were not enough Border Patrol agents. These agents sometimes left to take a truck and then walk two miles through terrible terrain to get to these groups only to have them run while they're already exhausted and they get lost in that chaos. So is it down? Maybe. 

Part of that's because now they've understood how to abuse the asylum laws in this country. You have a lot of folks from countries that are not declaring asylum in Mexico where they should be because it's the first country where they can actually declare safety and coming here they've learned how to do that. So now you have this crisis basically of- which I don't think the actual migration or the calling for asylum isn't of itself a crisis. But you now have a massive amount of people doing that. But I'll tell you what I saw was a lot of people coming over the border, a lot of drugs in the border and a lot of human trafficking. I mean these coyotes that would get paid a lot of money to bring groups over and then desert them to save their own backside. It was extremely disturbing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So am I understanding that with the picture you're painting, am I understanding that you believe the president's declaration of a national emergency is constitutional and that you will not vote to try to block it.

REP. KINZINGER: Yeah I won't vote to try to block it. Look, I- I wish this would have happened a different way. I voted for comprehensive immigration reform. I think Republicans, the Democrats both have good ideas on immigration that we ought to all --

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you think this is constitutional for the president--

REP. KINZINGER:  I do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --to bypass the power of the purse strings of Congress?

REP. KINZINGER:  I do. Yes. Yes, because in this case like I said at the beginning, if this was just about immigration I would disagree. I do think this is a security threat.

And on he went. No evidence of an emergency doesn’t prevent him from insisting there is one. No presidential power grab is alarming enough to force him to defend his coequal branch of government. What a shabby performance.

Republicans’ blather, evasion and lack of candor should remove any doubt that the party is now motivated by a single message: Defend whatever Trump says.

A political party must be more than a cult. As currently constituted, the Republican Party no longer stands for constitutional democracy; as such, it should be banished from government.

Read more:

Paul Waldman: President Trump is dragging Republicans down with him

Paul Waldman: Why Trump and the Republicans are terrified of transparency

Jennifer Rubin: Time for some straight talk from Republicans to Trump

Marc A. Thiessen: Trump shouldn’t be forcing Republicans to choose fidelity to him or to the Constitution

Ed Rogers: Will there be a credible challenge to Trump for the GOP nomination?