It’s hard to fully describe how disgraceful the behavior of Senate Republicans has been over the course of this impeachment trial, which is still just hearing the opening arguments. After spending all of last night killing the amendments that would have allowed new witnesses and new evidence to be presented in the trial, they had the gall to spend today complaining about how they haven’t heard anything new.
“So far what Schiff has said we’ve heard before” complained Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN). “So far we haven’t heard anything new from what he heard yesterday,” echoed Sen. John Cornyn. “Senators are struggling to try to see why we have to sit there, sit hearing the same arguments over and over and over and over again.” When Sen. John Barrasso was asked by CNN’s Manu Raju why they wouldn’t just subpoena new witnesses if they wanted to hear something new, Barrasso quickly passed the buck to the House, saying that they should have brought in the witnesses before sending the articles to a trial knowing full well that the White House refused to allow its staff to testify.
Barrasso said they learned “nothing new” from House Dems so I asked why not then subpoena Mulvaney or Bolton to see what if any new information there might be —> https://t.co/WTLagNcuGC
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 23, 2020
To add insult to injury, the GOP had spent the morning throwing a shitfit over how offended they were that Rep. Jerry Nadler had accused them of participating in a cover-up of the President’s crimes by refusing to hear any evidence and behaving as if the trial had a predetermined conclusion.
GOP this morning going hard after Nadler who accused senators last night of engaging in a coverup. They are arguing it undercuts the House Dem case. “It was so insulting and outrageous it was a shock to all of us,” Cornyn said to @alizaslav
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 22, 2020
“I took it as very offensive. As one who is listening attentively and working hard to get to a fair process, I was offended,” swing-vote Lisa Murkowski said tonight of Nadler’s presentation last night and his accusation of a GOP coverup
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 23, 2020
When they weren’t busy complaining and clutching their pearls, Senate Republicans were making an absolute mockery of the proceedings. Dozens of GOP Senators violated trial rules and simply left the chamber for long periods of time while others simply fell asleep in their seats, utterly uninterested in the damning evidence being presented before them.
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) January 22, 2020
It is very clear that the entire Republican Senate is very well aware that the President is guilty because the few substantive responses they’ve given to the testimony echo those of the president’s lawyers, who do not deny that the accusations are accurate but dispute the idea that they are impeachable. “The only conclusion will be that the President has done absolutely nothing wrong, and that these articles of impeachment do not begin to approach the standard required by the Constitution,” ranted Trump lawyer Pat Cipollone.
The slightest inclination towards cooperation that Republicans showed all afternoon was a ridiculous proposal to allow the subpoena of Ambassador Bolton in exchange for the testimony of former Vice-President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, which would inevitably derail the entire trial and turn it into a circus of conspiracy theories. Sen. Schumer immediately squashed that idea, but that of course gives the GOP the opportunity to complain that they had tried to help them out but the witch-hunt Dems just wouldn’t agree!
At every turn, the Republican Party has treated the President’s abuses of power — which they all more or less agree he did — like the indulgent excesses of a particularly boisterous toddler and treated their counterparts across the aisle with nothing but the most naked contempt and palpable hostility. It’s clear that there is no law too sacred and no crime too heinous for them to put aside their partisan unity and risk a single iota of power.
For over ten years, the Senate has been nothing but a legislative graveyard where the lickspittles of the oligarchy keep this country in a stranglehold without consequence or retribution. Right now, over 250 House-passed bills sit on the docket in the Senate with the Speaker obstinately refusing to bring them up for a vote.
We’ve watched in fury as Senate Republicans spent eight years blocking President Obama’s entire agenda and then deny him the Supreme Court nominee that he was entitled to. We’ve watched the death toll from mass shootings skyrocket and every kind of widely popular common-sense gun legislation join the toddlers of Sandy Hook in the grave because of Senate Republicans. Now we’re watching them piss on the Constitution and then tell us that we’re the ones at fault here.
The Senate has been exposed as a broken institution that allows a tiny minority of radicals to hold the entire nation hostage, and it’s clear that the Democratic Party and the next President needs to seriously begin planning radical action to permanently break the yoke of the Republican Senators, be it adding more states and more Senators or somehow abolishing it entirely. Enough is enough.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.