WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republican senators that their vote on impeachment should be based on "conscience."
Conscience? It apparently has less of a presence on Capitol Hill than partisan identity.
Consider the words of Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a likely presidential hopeful in 2024 anxious to court the Trump vote.
During a Fox News interview Thursday, Hawley charged the impeachment effort is a "totally illegitimate" and has "no basis in the Constitution." And he chastised Democrats for trying to "silence and write out" the votes of 74 million Trump supporters.
Thing is, Hawley has no credibility when it comes to legitimacy. Hawley was ready to overrule 81 million votes legally cast for now-President Joe Biden.
In December, when Hawley announced he would not vote to certify the Electoral College vote, he gave birth to the fantasy that on Jan. 6, Donald Trump's most outraged supporters somehow could persuade Congress to overturn, rather than certify, Electoral College results putting Joe Biden in the White House. Consequences? Not an issue.
Up until Hawley's announcement, Washington had expected Trump's claims he actually won the election would fizzle when Congress did its job on Jan. 6. Instead, there was mayhem and death.
Hawley also called impeachment a "political vendetta" and a waste of time when Washington should be concentrating in getting out vaccines to the American public.
If only Hawley had thought about sticking to the Senate's business before he blew up the Republican Party.
I've listened to objections to this impeachment, and yes, they point to a double standard.
If it's so wrong to challenge the outcome of an election, Trump supporters ask, why make Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the head House impeachment prosecutor? Raskin, after all, challenged Florida's pro-Trump electoral vote on technical grounds in 2017.
Be it noted that then-Vice President Biden ruled Raskin out of order. And that was the end of that.
When leftists torched American cities during protests ostensibly meant to promote social justice, Democratic politicians weren't put in a position where they were expected to forcefully denounce violence generated on their side of the aisle.
Months after the riots began, Biden issued a statement in which he actually blamed Trump for inflaming the country.
On Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., asked on Fox News where the outrage was when protesters of police shootings accosted his wife and him after they attended Trump's Republican National Convention acceptance speech on the South Lawn.
To those who say that Trump's remarks incited a riot, Paul added, he never used that standard on Sen. Bernie Sanders after a left-wing activist who had volunteered on Sanders' campaign shot Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., during softball practice.
Paul has a point, but it is dwarfed by the enormity of what happened on Jan. 6. Egged on by a president who falsely claimed the election was stolen from him, partisans stormed the Capitol to overturn an election by force.
If Hawley hadn't proposed trying to pressure Congress to do something it was not entitled to do, there may not have been a riot on Jan. 6.
So, I guess it's too bad Hawley has issues with impeachment. But really, he only has himself to blame.
Contact Debra J. Saunders at [email protected] Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.