In a July phone call, President Donald Trump pressured the Ukrainian president eight times to help him win the 2020 election by investigating former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
And in the weeks that followed, Trump held up $250 million in security aid, raising the possibility of extortion.
Just take a minute to let that all sink in.
Trump even confirmed his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that their discussions involved Joe Biden and U.S. aid to Ukraine.
“We don’t want our people like the vice president and his son creating to [sic] the corruption already in the Ukraine,” the president told reporters Sunday, adding that he had discussed “all of the corruption taking place” in his conversation with Zelensky.
Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, flatly admitted that he asked Ukraine to look into Biden’s family: “Of course I did.”
On the one hand, this is bananas and grounds for congressional investigations or potentially impeachment.
On the other hand, it’s not Trump’s fault that he asked a foreign country to interfere in our elections (again) because it’s Joe Biden’s fault, the media’s fault, Ukraine’s fault, the fault of the whistleblower who filed a complaint about this in the first place and maybe part of a conspiracy involving a hidden government within our actual government.
These are just some of the excuses Republicans on Capitol Hill have come up with to try to defend Trump ― part of a predictable pattern by GOP lawmakers who are too afraid to give a clear-eyed take on the president’s actions because they’ve tied their own reelections to staying on good terms with him. Even Republicans who used to call out Trump for his abuse of power have stopped doing it (remember Ben Sasse?) because they desperately want his support heading into the 2020 elections.
Here’s a look at how Republicans are defending Trump’s request for election assistance from Ukraine, grouped into emerging themes.
It’s a conspiracy!
“It looks to me like another Deep State attack.” ―Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)
“I think there are people in the intelligence community and other parts of our government who just have it out for the President.” ―Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
Democrats are behind this.
“You’re never going to see the attacks stopped. The left will not give up because they cannot even accept the fact that they lost. They lost the 2016 election.” ―Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
“It’s not like we haven’t seen this movie before. Democrats come out, they’re all spun up, Adam Schiff makes all kinds of statements, and then when the facts come out ― Whoa, different story!” ―Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
“The Democrats are cranking up the outrage machine again, beating the impeachment drum. They didn’t get what they wanted out of the Mueller investigation. They’re hoping they have something here.” ―Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
“If there’s wrongdoing, certainly we need to look at it. But my understanding of what has taken place is, this is just a different version of Russia collusion — Russiagate 2.0.” ―Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)
Don’t believe the media.
“I just frankly can’t imagine why people have lost their minds so much over these daily reports of one thing or another.” ―Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Surely this can’t be as bad as it looks.
“There might be a reasonable explanation for this.” ―Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.)
“If the President asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme. Critical for the facts to come out.” ―Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah)
Time to investigate Joe Biden.
“President Trump is going to blow you away with his willingness to disclose and be transparent about this phone call. The day that happens is the day that the inquiry about the interview with what was said by Joe Biden begins in earnest.” ―Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in a Monday interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show.
Trump is awesome.
“I think this president has been through enough. He’s proven he can do the job and why are people listening to his calls and selectively putting something out for political gain? Let this president govern this nation. He’s proved he can do it economically. This world is safer because of President Trump.” ―House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)