The Senate party-line votes squashing 11 amendments proposed by Democrats during the start of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial make one thing clear: Republican senators are in lock step, voting exactly as the president and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell want them to. That’s a sad statement on the inability of those Republicans to think and act independently. Sadder still is that it so blatantly belies their oath days earlier to be impartial.
Those senators, including Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley of Missouri, are mistaken if they think their Republican constituents aren’t paying attention. We’ve heard from several staunch Republican voters who say they are appalled by the refusal to call key witnesses in Trump’s trial. Polls indicate a similar mood among Republicans across the country. Fox News quoted a Monmouth Poll released Tuesday, which found that more than 75% of Americans believe Trump administration officials and the president himself should be invited to testify. You don’t get percentages like that without significant numbers of Republicans growing dissatisfied with their party’s intransigence.
Missourians’ dissatisfaction turns to anger when constituents write letters urging Blunt and Hawley to exercise independence, only to receive mindless form-letter responses.
One angry Republican voter is Jim Hawk, of Kirkwood, who wrote to Hawley and Blunt urging them to call witnesses in the trial and remain impartial. Blunt wrote back promising to “consider all the information presented.” Although short of supporting witness testimony, at least Blunt seems committed to open-mindedness.
But Hawley wrote back blaming House Democrats for making “an outrageous mockery of our Constitution. … It’s clear that this sham impeachment is politically motivated and groundless.” The date of Hawley’s letter was Jan. 21, five days after he swore his oath of impartiality. Another reader forwarded to us an identical letter she received from Hawley with the same date.
Hawk wrote back to Hawley: “In my request to you I asked that you fulfill your role as an impartial jury and be better than the democrats. I helped elect you based on my expectations of you as a person with character. Your response does not have you fulfilling the oath you took the other day to do that. I am disappointed that you cannot raise yourself above the situation and be a statesman versus a cheap politician. I continue to watch and my vote, political energy, and future money will ride on your behavior. This kind of behavior can drive me to support ‘those democrats’.”
The entire strategy devised by McConnell seems geared toward placating Trump’s base with an eye toward improving GOP results in the November elections. But McConnell and congressional Republicans may have miscalculated. Americans across party lines believe Trump’s actions deserve rigorous scrutiny by the Senate — not just a show trial. Capitol Hill Republicans had better pay closer attention to the Jim Hawks of their party — instead of sending form-letter, dismissive responses.