The Republican-controlled Senate is gearing up to vote on Trump’s impeachment tomorrow and it’s clear that the GOP will acquit him, whitewashing his gross abuses of power in a cynical demonstration of partisan rot.
The president’s guilt is readily apparent at this point despite Mitch McConnell’s successful scheme to block additional witness testimonies. Some Republican senators have even admitted as much, but they’re all so cowed by the MAGA cult that they’d rather vacate any semblance of moral duty than endanger their own political careers and the possibility of lucrative jobs in the conservative media apparatus.
The message the Republican Party is sending is clear: they’re okay with a president coercing foreign powers into undermining our democracy so long as it’s done in their favor. Of course, it’s not enough for Republicans to simply support their lawless leader and slink off in shame. No, they feel the need to gaslight the country, smear Democrats, and deploy a battery of bad faith and often outright insane defenses of Trump and his enablers.
Kenn Starr, one of the reactionary hacks hired as part of the president’s impeachment legal team, trotted out a truly shameless bit of rhetoric today. Speaking on the floor of the Senate ahead of tomorrow’s vote, Starr invoked the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. in a hamfisted and deeply disingenuous attempt to shield Trump.
“We’ve been reminded of what our country is all about and that it stands for one nation, under God. The nation is about freedom and we hear the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream-filled speech about freedom echoing the great passages inscribed on America’s temple of justice, the Lincoln Memorial, which stood behind Dr. King as he spoke on that historic day. Dr. King is gone, felled by an assassin’s bullet, but his words remain with us. And during his magnificent life, Dr. King spoke not only about freedom, freedom standing alone, he spoke frequently about freedom and justice,” Starr said.
He went on to speak about MLK’s passionate fight for equality and justice, warping it beyond recognition to argue that acquiting the president is about upholding “fundamental fairness.” He blathered on about “playing by the rules,” implying that Democrats have somehow broken them by daring to hold Trump accountable for his actions.
“Rules are rules. There to be followed. And so I submit that a key question to be asked as you begin your deliberations: Were the rules here faithfully followed? If not, if that is your judgment, then with all due respect the prosecutors should not be rewarded. Just as federal prosecutors are not rewarded. You didn’t follow the rules. You should have,” Starr argued.
It’s difficult to imagine someone gullible or clueless enough to believe that there are any similarities between the Civil Rights icon and the worst president in American history, but apparently they’re out there. These people live in a fever dream world cooked up by Fox News, where they’re encouraged to indulge their racist instincts while simultaneously bleating on about equality. Nothing short of a resounding, humiliating defeat at the ballot box in November will do. Trump and his fools must be expelled.
Watch the disgraceful performance below.
— BeachPretzel (@BeachPretzel2) February 3, 2020
Reactions were understandably thrumming with outrage.
Did…did Kenneth Starr just invoke MLK in defense of Trump? pic.twitter.com/OgH8tNCy4W
— Angela (@TheKitchenista) February 3, 2020
Please tell me this is not happening. Ken Starr cannot be quoting MLK on the Senate floor to defend Donald Trump. Come on.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) February 3, 2020
Ken Starr genuinely thinks he is an American hero and statesman, doesn’t he? Citing MLK in breathy tones. Spare us all.
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) February 3, 2020
After an interruption by zero legal ethics toting White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, is a fact witness in the case he's advocating, Ken Starr starts his defense of baseless hypocrisy by talking about Irving Berlin and moves on to MLK talking about fairness.#ShamImpeachmentTrial
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) February 3, 2020
Is Ken Starr, a man who not only bent the law to hound a president he didn't like, but who also covered up sexual assaults to benefit football players SERIOUSLY lecturing people about "fundamental fairness" and "following the rules"?
Go fuck yourself, #KenStarr
— Annyck Says TickTock (@AnnyckBC) February 3, 2020
I just watched Ken Starr giving a summation speech. sanctimonious bastard. Imagine Starr wrapping himself in MLK’s legacy and even talked about Irving Berlin. Then Starr accused the Dems of not following rules. Unreal. Arrogant and hypocritical. These GOP attys are bad actors
— David Deutsch (@daviddeutsch610) February 3, 2020
Ken Starr needs to get the words of MLK out of his damned mouth.
— Michael Bazemore hopes to see clearly this year. (@deepwatermike) February 3, 2020
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Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.