Republicans have been unable to construct a substantive defense to compelling evidence that President Trump used taxpayer-funded military aid to Ukraine to extort its government to interfere in our election (thereby putting our ally at risk to further Russian aggression). Instead, they’ve taken to grousing about lack of “due process” in the impeachment inquiry.

There are several responses to this argument. First, the Constitution gives the House unfettered power to set up its impeachment process. Second, in the decision of whether to pass articles of impeachment akin to an indictment, the defense/president does not have a right to be in the room, just as criminal defendants are kept out of grand jury deliberations. Third, there are three committees with dozens of Republicans in the hearings, who can listen to evidence and are capable of asking questions.

Oh, and Republicans act like irresponsible thugs who cannot be trusted to comb through classified material, as they amply demonstrated on Wednesday. The Post reports:

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper was due to speak at 10 a.m. in closed testimony focused on the mechanics of U.S. security assistance for Ukraine and fallout from the White House’s decision to withhold it for several months. But conservative lawmakers disrupted her session as it was about to begin, refusing to leave the secure room where impeachment witnesses have met with lawmakers. …
The protest caused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) to consult the House Sergeant at Arms about how to proceed, according to one Democratic lawmaker who witnessed the scene.

As if that were not bad enough, “Several protesting members had apparently tweeted from inside the SCIF, a security breach as cellphones are prohibited inside,” The Post reports. “The area is tightly restricted to allow lawmakers to review sensitive material without the risk of surveillance.”

You will recall when women peacefully demonstrated in public spaces in a Senate office building over the mistreatment of Christine Blasey Ford in the confirmation hearings of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, Republicans treated them as a mob — even though that was a constitutionally protected display of free speech. In this case, House Republicans’ behavior is more akin to college students occupying the dean’s office. The House Ethics Committee should review these congressmen’s conduct and issue appropriate punishment.

In the meantime, I cannot think of a more vivid way of illustrating the unsuitability of Republican House members to the grave task of examining grounds for impeachment of the president. Their whining about “due process,” obviously, has been a canard designed to come up with something to justify their ongoing defense of a president who betrayed our democracy and willingly put an ally in harm’s way to benefit his own political future.

Senate Republicans should take a long, hard look and decide if they want to defend a lawless president and give credence to House Republicans’ juvenile conduct. Senate Republicans can read Tuesday’s opening statement by William B. Taylor Jr. and see for themselves the replete evidence that Trump entirely corrupted our foreign policy; put his cronies, not professionals (subject to conflict of interest and security reviews), in a position of authority; expressly over a period of time held up aid until Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly committed to investigate Trump’s political opponent; and then has stonewalled and lied to prevent Congress from learning of his misconduct.

Republican senators will have to explain to their constituents, their family and friends why they thought allowing Trump to get off scot-free was consistent with the duties of their offices and why we should allow a president to engage in such chicanery. A Senate that acquits Trump will go down in the annals of U.S. history as the most irresponsible and tribalistic in history. The Senate will leave a permanent stain on a body beginning to act more and more like the House than the institution the founders envisioned. They also might go down as the politically dumbest if they insist on going to the mat for a president increasingly unlikely to win reelection and quite possibly the cause of losing their majority.

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