January 9, 2020 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Mike Lee and Rand Paul Can Put Up or Shut Up
Please dear liberals, don't be so gullible.
THE US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IMPEACHED the president because he abused his power. By extorting a foreign government into investigating a rival, he violated the right of the people to consent fully to his governance. As Jerry Nadler might have said, he welcomed political sabotage in 2016. He demanded it for 2020.
The US House of Representatives also impeached the president because he denied the United States Congress its authority as a co-equal branch of the federal government. Time and again, Trump refused to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas seeking documents and testimony in an effort to hold the executive branch accountable. His categorical refusal mocked checks and balances. It profaned separation of powers.
Please excuse me for not being verklempt by Lee’s outburst of devotion to the Constitution.
The House indicted. Now the US Senate must hold a trial. As of Monday, the upper chamber appears ready to conduct a sham proceeding for which no relevant witnesses or documents will be called. Mitch McConnell is a juror preparing to blaspheme his oath to the US Constitution and conspire with the defendant to rig the outcome.
Worse, the Senate majority leader seems to have the backing of all 53 Republican senators. Rather than hear the merits of the case against the president, and deciding from there, the entire Republican conference is signalling its readiness to abdicate its solemn duty and just take the president’s word for it. Such complicity with a president magnifies Donald Trump’s injury to the American people by surrendering or selling off their sovereignty to the whims, grievance and paranoia of a would-be tyrant.
The Democratic complaint against the president is rooted in republican values and constitutional law but especially patriotism—a deep love of country. So you’ll excuse me for not being all that verklempt by Mike Lee’s outburst of devotion to the same. Excuse me for getting pissed at liberals for applauding an apparent co-conspirator.
The Republican senator from Utah expressed anger Wednesday at the administration for not being fully forthcoming about why Trump chose to order Qassem Soleimani’s death, thus bringing us to the brink of war with Iran. (Tensions have fortunately waned since Iran retaliated Tuesday.) Lee, alongside US Senator Rand Paul, said a briefing was too short while being told “to be good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public. I find that absolutely insane. I think it’s unacceptable.”
The message from Trump administration officials, Lee said, was “do not debate, do not discuss the issue of appropriateness of further military intervention, and that if you do, you’ll be emboldening Iran.” He said it was insulting to the 100 democratically elected senators of a co-equal branch. He said it was “demeaning to the Constitution of the United States. It’s un-American. It’s unconstitutional. And it’s wrong. … I hope [the Trump administration shows] more deference to their limited power in the future.”
Yes, insulting. Right, just insane. Un-American, I hear you, sir. Unconstitutional?
Look—I’ll take Lee’s anger seriously when he declares his opposition to McConnell and his support for giving the US House of Representatives its due respect by hearing what impeachment managers have to say, calling witnesses, demanding relevant documents, and doing what any normal person would expect from the Senate: a fair trial. Until he says otherwise, I’ll presume Mike Lee’s dramatic defense of his beloved constitutional principles is just political cover for when he votes to clear Trump.
As for Rand Paul, he’s even worse. He agreed with Lee, adding:
“I think we need to debate the separation of powers.”
Amazing! I too would like a debate over separation of powers. I too desire a debate over the very constitutional principle at the heart of the indictment against the president! Yet at far as I know, Rand Paul is one of 51 senators who voted for a resolution shaping a show trial rigged long ago to clear the president of any and all wrongdoing. Sure, Lee and Paul might really mean what they say about military invention in the Middle East. But the Constitution is not a buffet. You don’t get to choose whether separation of powers matters. The way I see it, Lee and Paul can either put up or shut up.
But my greatest anger is for liberals. They took Lee’s anger as some kind of indicator that maybe, just maybe, one or two Republican senators might grow a spine and sorta kinda ask McConnell politely for a fair trial. I’m angry at my fellow liberals not for cheering the opposition but for acting so gullible. Of course, Lee and Paul demand respect. Republicans always demand respect. The problem is when Democrats do the same. To Republicans, Democrats can’t be principled. They can only be partisan.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.