Considering removing a president from office via procedures outlined in the Constitution has some distinct differences from the Soviet Union’s infamous show trials in which defendants were sentenced to death or long prison terms, often based on fabricated evidence. Nor is it akin to a secret Star Chamber proceeding. But as Trump’s allies have focused on the procedures, rather than the substance, of the impeachment inquiry, they have frequently compared the process to both.
Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) launched the impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24, at least 10 House Republicans and seven Fox News personalities and guests have called the inquiry a “Soviet-style” process or have compared it to a Star Chamber, according to a Fix review.
Fox News’s Sean Hannity has called the inquiry a “Soviet” process on his show each night for the last two weeks of October. (Hannity did not host his show on Friday, Oct. 25 or on Friday, Nov. 1.) During a Trump rally on Oct. 17 that aired during Hannity’s Fox show, the network ran a chyron slamming the “Soviet-style impeachment attempt.”
Fox News and Fox Business hosts including Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro and Laura Ingraham have called the proceedings a Star Chamber.
Notably, some Senate Republicans have not joined their colleagues in calling the inquiry a “Soviet-style” process.
The Soviet comparisons are similar to an earlier talking point of Trump and his allies: that a constitutionally sanctioned impeachment process is, in fact, an attempt to overthrow the government via a coup. Hannity now often combines both terms, describing the inquiry as a “secret, Soviet-style impeachment coup attempt.”
Both talking points harp on the process even as Trump has tweeted that Republicans should focus on the substance of his conduct in dealing with Ukraine.
But some congressional Republicans are less eager to defend Trump on the substance.
Asked six times in less than five minutes on Sunday whether it was appropriate for Trump to call on foreign governments to investigate his political rival, Scalise demurred six times.