Editor’s Note: This was originally published in the October 31 edition of CNN’s Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Sign up here to receive it every weekday morning.
There is a genuine argument to be had over whether President Donald Trump’s apparent search for political favors in Ukraine is sufficiently serious for him to be ousted.
That’s the task of the impeachment inquiry that the full House of Representatives will vote on for the first time on Thursday – and ultimately it would be up to the US Senate to decide whether Trump’s alleged offenses should cost him his presidency.
Many Democrats argue that the President abused his power by pressuring a foreign leader for dirt on a political rival – 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
But as the evidence mounts, it’s hard to find Republicans building a defense on the merits. Trump loyalists are instead mirroring the President’s tactics by attacking the impeachment process itself, hitting out at Democrats, impugning the character of witnesses and resorting to conspiracy theories.
Deny, deny, deny. Some have chosen to simply not acknowledge eyebrow-raising statements in witness testimony and in a rough transcript of Trump’s now-infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Attack the process. Republicans are also arguing that the whole thing is a partisan plot that infringes on the Constitution and defies the will of people who voted for Trump. However, the Constitution does give the House of Representatives the right to draw up its own impeachment process as a backstop against wrongdoing in the Oval Office.
Call it a “secret ritual conducted by a cult.” Some have opted to simply jump the shark.
Introduce chaos. A last line of defense seems to be to sow as much confusion as possible, in the hope that no one will be able to understand exactly how bad things seem to be getting for the President.