It’s hard to dispute the Democrats’ claim that the GOP cares more about Sean Hannity and whipping its base into a fury than protecting vulnerable Americans worried about health care. Democrats should remind voters of this repeatedly — as they did in the run-up to their 2018 election romp.
Trump’s party is now about Trump’s vindication, Trump’s vendetta against the media and Trump’s determination to prove himself “exonerated” despite Robert S. Mueller III’s statement excerpted by the attorney general that he was not exonerating Trump.
Here again, Mulvaney reveals just how morally depraved is this administration. Mulvaney repeated the lie that Trump was entirely exonerated of both collusion and obstruction. Tapper corrected him, and it went downhill from there after he played a clip of House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) talking about Trump and his campaign’s association with Russians (“I think it’s immoral. I think it’s unethical. I think it’s unpatriotic. And, yes, I think it’s corrupt and evidence of collusion. . . . I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is okay.”):
TAPPER: Now, from what we know, the special counsel concluded there is not sufficient evidence for any criminal charges having to do with conspiracy or collusion.But what do you think about his larger point that the actions were unethical?MULVANEY: Keep in mind that everything Adam that just talked about -- and I know Adam. I used to serve with him in Congress.Everything that he just listed right there was available to Mr. Mueller, in fact, probably in greater detail than Adam goes into right there, and yet Mr. Mueller found no collusion and no obstruction.TAPPER: Right, not a crime, but what about the ethics or morality of those things, those incidents?MULVANEY: Again, the -- the -- the issue is not whether it’s ethical. . . .TAPPER: All I'm saying here is that you're setting the bar on criminal charges or evidence of conspiracy. And I agree with what you're saying, that there is none there.But he’s talking about ethics and morality. And you’re saying, that’s not his job. Okay, fair enough.MULVANEY: Right.TAPPER: But forgetting Adam Schiff for a second, what about the larger point about ethics and morality?MULVANEY: Well, I think -- I think the voters are going to decide about the ethics and morality of the people they vote for on either side. ...A lot of folks, including this station, said, give Mueller the time, give him -- let him do his job. But the decision is in. The president did not collude and did not obstruct. It’s time to move on.
Mulvaney then launched into a whataboutism argument concerning Bill Clinton.
Well, we couldn’t have said it any better: The Trump administration is utterly unconcerned with ethics. Betraying the country? Encouraging hacking? Lying to voters? Pish-posh. If it’s not indictable, the president feels he’s got a clean bill of health.
To be clear, Mueller apparently confirmed that Russia did try to interfere with our election both through social media and hacking emails that were then released by WikiLeaks. The Trump campaign had been warned about Russian attempts to interfere with our election. And yet the campaign had more than 100 contacts with Russians and never reported any of this to the FBI. Trump publicly called for Russia to hack and release Hillary Clinton’s emails. Maybe Trump wasn’t colluding, but he and his team were signaling their willingness to accept Russian help, lying about contacts with Russia, lying about his financial interest in doing a deal in Russia and inviting a hostile power to help him win the election.
Perhaps there is no law against that, or perhaps there is one under which he can be indicted after he leaves office. However, if Mueller’s report contains merely Trump’s public conduct and matters in legal filings — in other words, Trump misled the public and welcomed a hostile power’s help — it’s hard to argue with a straight face that Trump was vindicated. And yet, that is precisely what Republicans do these days.
In league with an international foe? Carry Russian propaganda to help you with a hotel deal? Try to interfere with an investigation? Only a party as soulless and lacking in adherence to democratic principles could shrug and declare exoneration. That doesn’t mean the rest of us have to — or that such a character deserves a day more in office past his existing term.