The whistleblower who exposed President Donald Trump's attempt to compromise U.S. security interests in Ukraine for his own benefit is still under attack from Republicans, even as named witnesses have corroborated the whistleblower's allegations. A lawyer for the whistleblower pushed back this week, accusing GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of lying about the issue.
Jordan isn't alone. The entire Republican strategy in the impeachment hearings has been to impugn the character of witnesses, promote wacky conspiracy theories and outright lie to prevent the country from getting at the truth. There should be political consequences to this strategy of deliberate distraction. As the whistleblower's attorney put it on Twitter, #FactsMatter.
Republicans have the right to defend Trump — an unenviable task, given the evidence. But that doesn't excuse the diversions and misrepresentations they've resorted to.
Their central diversion is an obsession with identifying the unnamed whistleblower who alerted officials to the scheme. Whistleblowers are protected to ensure future whistleblowers feel safe to expose wrongdoing. His identity in this case is a moot point anyway because of the subsequent testimony.
Yet Republicans, grabbing at any straw, persist in trying to make the whistleblower the issue. When Jordan, of Ohio, claimed without evidence that the whistleblower had actively worked with Democrats, the whistleblower's lawyer had had enough.
"Congressman @Jim_Jordan — I AM TIRED OF YOU LYING IN A HOUSE COMMITTEE ROOM IN FRONT OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE," lawyer Andrew Bakaj tweeted Tuesday. "My client hired ME — no one else in leading up to filing the disclosure ... "
It was a remarkable departure from decorum, but a necessary one. Similar pushback is justified against Rep. Devin Nunes, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, who falsely alleged the whistleblower had "disappeared." In fact, the whistleblower offered to submit written testimony, which Republicans have rejected.
The litany of GOP lies goes on. No, there's no evidence former Vice President Joe Biden's efforts to have a Ukrainian prosecutor removed were meant to thwart an investigation into a Ukrainian company with ties to Biden's son. In fact, U.S. and European leaders were all calling for the prosecutor's removal because of his reputation for corruption.
No, there's no evidence for the silly claim that the "real" 2016 election meddling was by Ukraine, against Trump, rather than by Russia, against Hillary Clinton. In fact, Russian meddling is the conclusion of the entire U.S. intelligence community.
When Republicans weren't engaging in misdirection, they were peddling pettiness — like trying to make an issue of the fact that decorated veteran Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified in dress uniform. That's common practice, but it apparently made Republicans uncomfortable as they pursued their diversionary tactic of questioning Vindman's patriotism.
Whatever the impeachment process ultimately yields regarding Trump, Americans should not allow congressional Republicans to escape unscathed after their underhand effort to defend him at any cost. Voters next year must not forget it.
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