With Donald Trump in the crosshairs of an impeachment inquiry involving several administration officials, it’s no wonder no one from the White House wanted to appear on Sunday cable news shows to defend him. Neither did Republican leaders in Congress.
And guess what: It was kind of nice. With the exception of Chuck Todd, of all people, Sunday saw a lot less shouting. CNN’s Jake Tapper even looked a bit serene at one point, as Republican presidential candidate Joe Walsh handled a debate with fellow GOP Trump challenger Mark Sanford about whether Trump should be impeached.
As several news show hosts pointed out, Republican leaders are in hiding after damning evidence surfaced this week in the Trump impeachment inquiry, including text messages between U.S. officials that show that Ukrainian officials were pressured into an agreement to investigate Joe Biden and his son, along with other 2016 election conspiracy theories promoted by the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Also on Sunday, it was reported that a second whistleblower has come forward to testify to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, offering firsthand accounts of the Trump administration’s pressuring of Ukrainian leaders to assist in discrediting Trump’s political rivals.
That whistleblower is being represented by the same attorney representing the first whistleblower, who prompted the impeachment inquiry. Both whistleblowers reportedly are intelligence officers.
As CNN’s Tapper noted, “We invited the White House on to answer questions on the show this morning, [but] they did not offer a guest. We also invited both of the president’s personal lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow. They declined to appear. We invited every member of Senate leadership and the top House Republicans. They all declined or did not even respond.”
He observed that the Republican no-show happened “on one of the most critical news weeks of the last three years…”
Things seem to be falling apart for Trump and the Republicans, regardless of their usual incessant shouting and perpetual gaslighting. What’s left, at least on today’s news shows, was Walsh attacking Trump and making Sanford, a former U.S. representative and governor from South Carolina, look weak, melancholy, and about as exciting as stagnant, lukewarm water.
“In terms of [impeachment] inquiry, ultimately, as I’ve said previously, I don’t know that ultimately impeachment’s the best way to go,” Sanford told Tapper, who looked like he was on autopilot. “I think probably censure is, given the fact that we’re this close to an election. But that’s a larger conversation. Would I want to investigate this? Yes.”
“I don’t understand that,” Walsh fired back. “This president deserves to be impeached. Jake, nobody from the White House and no high-level Republicans are on this show today, because there’s nothing to defend. This president betrayed his country again this week.”
Walsh also tried to nail down whether Sanford believes Trump has committed impeachable offenses. Sanford tried to wiggle out of it by focusing on the “process” and the “politics,” and the fact that Trump would claim to be vindicated if the Senate fails to convict him.
“Mark, that’s Washington, D.C. gobbledygook,” Walsh said. “Either the Republican Party stands up now and says, ‘We oppose this. We oppose collusion. We oppose foreign governments interfering in our election.’ Either we stand up with one unifying voice with that right now, Mark, and we don’t get involved in the gobbledygook of censure or impeachment, or is it politically prudent—how about we Republicans do what is right, sir?”
While I’m certainly no fan of Walsh, who has said some awfully racist things in the not-so-distant past, I will admit that it’s refreshing to sit back and watch these Republicans argue with each other about justice and decency, and the right thing to do.
Not that I expect them to actually do the right thing, mind you.