Carly Fiorina has never been a big fan of Donald Trump.
Which makes sense, given their high-profile clashes when she opposed him for the 2016 Republican nomination – including a sexist attack Trump made about her appearance.
And which makes the interview Fiorina gave to CNN’s Poppy Harlow all the more mystifying.
Start here: Fiorina told Harlow that it was “vital” that Trump be impeached – although she stopped short of endorsing his removal by the Senate because we are now so close to the 2020 election.
That’s a defensible position – that Trump behaved inappropriately and needs to be penalized by the House for it, but that the question of whether Trump should be removed from office is better left to voters next November.
But what Fiorina then told Harlow is where she loses me. Asked whether she would vote for Trump in 2020 (as she did in 2016), Fiorina told Harlow: “It depends who the Democrats put up.”
What? Wait, WHAT?
So, Fiorina believes not only that Trump committed acts in office for which he should be impeached, but also that it is “vital” to the country that the President be impeached. But despite that fact, she is not willing to rule out voting for Trump again unless and until she knows the identity of the Democratic nominee.
Which is, well, something. Because IF you believe a President needs to be impeached for the good of the country, logic will seem to dictate that if/when you got a chance to remove him from office via the ballot box, you would do so. And you would do so because no matter who the other alternative is that Democrats put up, you presumably believe that that person will not be (or has not) committed any impeachable acts.
What Fiorina is saying in this interview is so confusing because:
a) She argues that Trump needs be impeached for the good of country.
b) She chooses party over country when asked whether she would vote for Trump again.
It is impossible to marry those two statements. Either this President is a threat to the country and needs to be removed – either by impeachment or the vote – or he isn’t and doesn’t. What Fiorina is saying is akin to this: Yeah, this is bad and dangerous to the country, but … what if Democrats nominate someone who I disagree with on stuff?
Country over party, and then party over country.
Fiorina’s attempt to articulate a position that is, on its face, ridiculous is in keeping with the broader struggle of establishment Republicans to deal with Trump and the ongoing effort to impeach him. While some within the party have taken to insisting that Trump acted perfectly in his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, there are plenty of others – including Fiorina – who believe Trump’s attempts to use the power of the presidency for his own personal and political gain are beyond the pale and the sort of stuff that can’t be allowed to happen.
At the same time, however, these Republicans like what Trump has done in office – tax cuts, lots and lots of judges appointed to the bench – and worry about what might happen if a big government liberal like Massachusetts Sen, Elizabeth Warren or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders gets elected.
Sure! I get that. But you can’t have it both ways. Either this President has abused his office for personal gain and needs to go – whether via removal after impeachment or at the ballot box in 2020 – or he hasn’t done anything that merits that sort of punitive response. You can’t have it both ways.