Recently, Trump has been exhorting (and maybe extorting too, who knows?) Republicans to stop focusing on opposing the impeachment process and defend him on the substance instead. He did it again this morning on Twitter:
Republicans are very unified and energized in our fight on the Impeachment Hoax with the Do Nothing Democrats, and now are starting to go after the Substance even more than the very infair Process because just a casual reading of the Transcript leads EVERYBODY to see that…..
…..the call with the Ukrainian President was a totally appropriate one. As he said, “No Pressure.” This Impeachment nonsense is just a continuation of the Witch Hunt Hoax, which has been going on since before I even got elected. Rupublicans, go with Substance and close it out!
Since Trump is incandescently stupid, it’s possible he really does believe it’s okay to ask foreign leaders to interfere in a domestic election. There’s evidence he believes that; he described releasing the “Transcript” (which is not a transcript) as if it were exonerating (which it’s not):
“They never thought I’d release the conversation. They never thought in a million years that I’d release the conversation,” Trump told reporters at the White House that day. “When ‘Liddle’ Adam Schiff saw the text, when he read it, he couldn’t believe it. When Nancy Pelosi, who worked a day early — Nancy Pelosi called for essentially impeachment — “Let’s impeach the President” — before she saw the transcript.”
He’s probably right that Schiff “couldn’t believe it” when he read the not-transcript — couldn’t believe Trump and/or his handlers were dumb enough to give up such an incriminating document voluntarily. But as Greg Sargent at The Post notes, by insisting that Republicans defend him on “substance,” Trump is asking them to go on TV and insist that it’s okay for a president to ask foreign leaders to smear political opponents.
It’s going to get worse as Giuliani’s crackpot theory gets more scrutiny, and I don’t see how the activities of Giuliani and his henchmen don’t become a key part of the discussion as the hearings unfold. That’s where this is heading, probably. So, Trump will eventually ask Republicans to swallow that Kool-Aid too. Like good little cultists.