Much of the GOP's response to Trump's Ukraine scandal has been to try to divert attention.
Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) is introducing a resolution demanding that the GOP-controlled Senate exclude anyone running for president from participating in Trump's increasingly likely impeachment trial. This is the latest in a series of stunts by Trump and his congressional GOP defenders aimed at distracting from Trump's conduct.
Smith's resolution urges the Senate to change its rules "to require a sitting United States Senator actively seeking election to the Presidency of the United States to recuse himself of herself" from the impeachment trial for any first-term incumbent president. Such a move would exclude Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and the millions they represent from having a say on whether to remove the president for high crimes and misdemeanors.
With a Democratic House majority, the resolution is unlikely to make it to the floor — much less be adopted. But it comes on the heals of an array of other stunts and bizarre arguments made by Trump and his GOP defenders in recent weeks.
These have included:
The Pelosi explusion resolution
On Oct. 8, Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) broke with House norms to file a resolution to expel Speaker Nancy Pelosi for announcing an impeachment inquiry. The resolution is unlikely to emerge from committee and to date has just two co-sponsors.
The Schiff censure resolution
On Oct. 22, angry that House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff had paraphrased a partial transcript of Donald Trump's infamous July phone call with the Ukrainian president, House Republicans forced a vote on an effort to censure him. Their efforts were halted in just 35 minutes by the Democratic majority.
The SCIF invasion
On Oct. 23, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) led a mob of House Republicans in an attempt to break into the secure room, the "SCIF," where the House impeachment inquiry committees were holding a closed deposition. Several brought in cellphones, which experts warned could imperil national security. They eventually left for votes, but not after they had delayed the day's depositions significantly.
The Vindman smear
On Oct. 28 and 29, Trump and his conservative media defenders, accused Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient and the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, of disloyalty.
Trump attacked him as a "never Trumper", which Trump has said makes people "human scum," while former Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) and Fox News host Laura Ingraham suggested he was secretly loyal to the Ukraine. Vindman, who testified about his concern that Trump's actions endangered national security, emigrated from the Soviet Union when he was a three-year-old. Even House Republican Conference chair Liz Cheney called these smears "shameful."
The SCOTUS should block impeachment argument
On Dec. 2, Trump argued that since the "Radical Left has NO CASE" against him, the impeachment process — spelled out clearly in the Constitution "Shouldn't even be allowed!" "Can we go to Supreme Court to stop?" he asked. Legal experts say no, he cannot.
The demand for Adam Schiff's phone records
On Dec. 4, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, urging him to use his subpoena power to obtain the phone records for Rep. Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, and the attorney for the anonymous whistleblower.
Rep. Smith is perhaps best known for interrupting Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) during a January floor speech to tell him to go back to Puerto Rico. Cardenas is the descendent of Mexican immigrants, though Smith's office claimed the comment referred to Democratic legislators' recent Puerto Rican conference.
Smith also made headlines in 2017 when he asked why the Affordable Care Act included a tax on tanning beds but no tax on the sun.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.