Asked Wednesday if he had any concerns at all in light of recent reports on [President] Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine, [Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)] said, “There’s lot of things that concern me.”
But he added, “That’s not the question.”
“The question on the table is impeachment and that’s the question we should get an answer to, and the answer so far is ‘For what would we impeach the president?’ And the answer is ‘I don’t see anything for that,’ ” he said. ... “Everybody wants us to do the right thing. In order to do the right thing, we want to see all that there is,” Scott told reporters, explaining that he’s not ready to dismiss the House charges out of hand.

Nothing impeachable, just move along. Let’s throw open the doors and have foreign countries determine our elections? Surely Scott would complain if his opponent invited, say, China to smear him or if Trump held up disaster relief to his state until elected officials endorsed him?

To give him the benefit of the doubt, we do not know precisely what Scott knew when he made these remarks.

Did he know multiple witnesses will confirm Trump’s concerted effort to solicit Ukraine dirt on former vice president Joe Biden and to establish a whackadoodle conspiracy theory that (contrary to intelligence agencies’ conclusion) Ukraine intervened in the election, not Russia, to help Hillary Clinton, not Trump?

Did Scott know Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified that Trump personally held up aid to Ukraine, without legal basis, so as to extort Ukraine into helping him?

Did he know that former national security adviser John Bolton, Vindman and other National Security Council officials understood that this was unacceptable (as does Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan) and perhaps illegal?

On one hand, it is good to see that unlike the juvenile hyper-partisans in the House, many Senate Republicans are at least acting respectful (aside from Sen. Lindsey O. Graham). However, the tactic — admitting gross misconduct but voting against impeachment — will be mighty hard to sustain.

For one thing, Trump does not think he did anything wrong and is very likely to continue the conduct. It is not as if Trump were remorseful and vowed to stop asking foreigners for reelection help.

Moreover, it is hard to think of anything more corrupt and more worthy of impeachment than using government funds to advance his own interests at the expense of the security of a close ally and of the United States and West more generally. What would be impeachable in Republicans’ eyes? (I suppose they all owe Bill Clinton an apology, since his conduct was not remotely as serious as Trump’s.)

If Scott and others are going to adopt the “not bad enough to impeach” tactic, it will be interesting so see what they do. You would think they might call on Trump to resign or even censure him. They certainly would not endorse him for four more years after discovering behavior this bad, right? Right?

The problem with the “not bad enough” argument is that by raising the bar just above Trump’s misdeeds, it effectively would wipe out the impeachment clause, would require them to take some other affirmative action against Trump and would put them in the position of rewarding Trump (acquit and endorse!) for behavior they acknowledge is unacceptable.

What about the argument that it is so close to the election that we should not bother to impeach? Well, the Framers did not limit impeachment to a president’s second term. Moreover, we would have to discuss what other actions to disallow as too close to the election (e.g. judicial appointments, major regulatory changes). And remember, these guys are still endorsing him for four more years of this stuff.

In short, Republicans have to decide whether to condone and normalize Trump’s egregious conduct, behavior they would never countenance if committed by a Democratic president. Now Republicans looking for an out could always censure him and force him to forgo a second term (holding conviction over his head). The problem, however, with that and every other compromise scheme is that it is dangerous to leave in office for any period of time someone incapable of adhering to the requirements of his oath of office. That, to be blunt, is exactly why impeachment is necessary.

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