Fully Understand What GOP Congressmen & CPAC Have Become in Servitude to Trump…Please do share our blog. Americans need it now more than ever! Here at The VORACS we give it to you straight & tell you the truth. It’s a free country so people are free to believe me or the pathological liar in the White House. But a whole lot of people in America are in need of a healthy dose of reality these days. There’s no longer even an ounce of rhyme or reason coming from the far-right. We keep hearing the angry over-the-top bombasts about the deep state coming repeatedly from the echo, but that deep state actually forms the institutions protecting our democracy, & without them America would be vulnerable to fall into fascism or whatever form of oppressive governing that would be antithetical to our values & Constitution. Be forewarned, a supernatural tribal cult has a powerful influence, recently possessing those worshipping their earthly king, including among Trump pundits, GOP congressmen, echo-hosts & the Trumpeter base. If they succeed in their relentless mission to take over our nation, we’re not going to have much of a country left, at least not anyplace where people would actually want to live.
After 50 years of traveling to every part of the world in my various roles — as a soldier in Vietnam, a businessman, the president of an international service organization and a senior U.S. government official — I’ve come to recognize certain realities in a global world order. One is that a trusted, global geopolitical center of gravity is indispensable. That center of gravity, which the U.S. and its allies have anchored since World War II, has helped the world adjust, adapt and progress through unprecedented changes and challenges. It has helped nations resolve differences, accommodate different perspectives and assure citizens with a prospect for hope and success rather than despair and conflict. The future of the U.S. and its interests in an interconnected world is tied to its friends and allies across the globe. We are always stronger and better together, with an inclusive, global community sharing mutual interests and values and peacefully resolving differences. This world order has not resolved every problem over the past 70 years. But what if that world order hadn’t existed? Do we think the world today would be a safer, freer, more prosperous or better place?
Flawed and imperfect as the post-WWII world order has been, it is still the most successful period in history by any measure. There has been no nuclear war, nor have there been any major conflagrations. In addition, there’s been unprecedented progress in every discipline: healthcare, medicine, science, space, food production and technological advances. There are more people free, more democracies, more economic progress and more hope in the world than ever before. Freedom House just released its annual report noting 116 democracies in the world today. In 2000, there were 77, and in 1970, there were 32. But it also noted that 2018 represented the 13th consecutive year that global freedom has declined. Which brings me to Gallup’s 2019 report on global ratings of the world’s leadership. Gallup’s report shows that the median global approval rating for the U.S. among adults in 133 countries was 31 percent in 2018, with large disapproval ratings, including among some of America’s strongest, oldest allies. This number is basically unchanged from the record low the U.S. set in 2017.
These numbers are a clear warning to the U.S. A wake-up call that represents a struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. The world has lost trust and confidence in America. As we know, trust and confidence are the coins of the realm in all matters and especially in international relations. China and Russia have gained ground, however, according to the new report. After tying with the U.S. in 2017, China’s leadership edged ahead in 2018. At 34 percent, this is China’s highest median leadership approval rating since 2009. Russia’s approval rating rose to 30 percent in 2018, tying its previous high in 2008. It’s worth noting that the approval ratings of the U.S. and Russia are now on par for the first time. The world disapproved of U.S. leadership more than the leadership of these other countries in 2018. The median U.S. disapproval rating was 40 percent. This disapproval rating of U.S. leadership was higher than disapproval ratings of Germany’s (22 percent), China’s (28 percent) or Russia’s (31 percent).
When you review U.S. disapproval ratings in nations that have been historically reliable allies over the years, the picture is very bleak. In the U.K., 64 percent disapprove of U.S. leadership; Germany, 73 percent disapprove; France, 65 percent disapprove; and Canada, 79 percent disapprove, to name a few. These ratings speak to the seriousness of where America is today in the eyes of the world. The warning for the U.S. is clear. Gallup’s report shows a world drifting — where hope is lost, and authoritarianism is rewarded. Over the last 70 years, nations working through international institutions of cooperation have produced a more productive and hopeful world than at any time in history. Two billion more global citizens will join the human race by 2050, bringing the Earth’s population to 9 billion. The world cannot survive the real threats of economic and environmental disaster, pandemic health outbreaks, nuclear exchange, cyberattacks and other serious threats with the breakdown and absence of strong relationships and institutions built on trust, confidence and common interests.
Ronald Reagan famously vowed to “trust, but verify” when confronting strongmen from places like the Soviet Union. President Trump just trusts them. When Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia, denied meddling in American elections, Mr. Trump said: “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.” In the aftermath of the Saudi killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who lived in Virginia, Mr. Trump tweeted, “Just spoke with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate.”
And on Thursday in Vietnam, when Mr. Trump was asked about the death of an American student, Otto F. Warmbier, after meeting with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, the president took pains to absolve him of any responsibility for the torture that Mr. Warmbier was said to have endured during his detention in North Korea before he was returned home comatose. “He felt badly about it. I did speak to him. He felt very badly,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Kim, whose culpability in Mr. Warmbier’s fate is an article of faith among American national security officials. But for Mr. Trump, the more important declaration came from Mr. Kim himself. “He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word,” the president told reporters. More than two years in the Oval Office, the president has demonstrated an unmistakable pattern: He tends to believe what strongmen say.
I decided against going to CPAC, the annual wingnut hootenanny in Washington, this year because, frankly, there was nobody there I wanted to see and nobody’s ideas I wanted to hear. Instead of rising Republican politicians and political superstars, what they had was a Double-A ball club of people who were auditioning for whatever slots Fox News has open in the early morning hours. However, on Friday, there was one scene I was sorry I missed. From the Kansas City Star: Sen. Josh Hawley capped a tumultuous week Friday with his debut appearance at the American Conservative Union’s CPAC conference — and receiving a subpoena as he left the stage. Elad Gross, a Democratic candidate for attorney general who is suing Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s office, said on Twitter that the Missouri senator was served moments after he completed his appearance. “We got him,” Gross said. “After more than two weeks of evading service, Senator Josh Hawley was personally served with the subpoena at CPAC.”
Being a shameless shill for a corrupt autocrat, insanity Hannity may have earned himself a subpoena from Congress. I’ve speculated all along, being a key Trump adviser may wind up in an indictment to Hannity for obstruction: huffpost.com/entry/sean-
He has reason to expect Republican spinelessness. In recent days, House Republicans have put on their most feckless performances of the Trump era. Though many privately oppose Trump’s border “emergency” declaration, only a dozen joined Sensenbrenner in defying Trump. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) shrugged off GOP hypocrisy with a Yogi Berra-ism (“Well, times change as it moves forward”), and other Republicans followed. Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho) admitted “Republicans would be going nuts” if a Democratic president did this. Rep. Chris Stewart (Utah) called Trump’s action a “mistake.” Reps. Michael R. Turner (Ohio) and Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio) declared it a “dangerous precedent” and Rep. John Curtis (Utah) a “harmful precedent.” Reps. Rob Bishop (Utah), Roger Williams (Tex.) and others voiced concerns. All then voted in support of Trump’s emergency. Seemingly nothing can shake Republicans’ craven political calculation that appeasing Trump is a better course than voting their conscience.This week in the House, Trump’s former personal lawyer documented a web of deceit by Trump in personal and public matters — and Republicans unflinchingly defended the president. At the same time in Hanoi, Trump accepted Kim Jong Un’s word that he had nothing to do with American Otto Warmbier’s death — just as Trump accepted similar denials of crimes by the Saudi crown prince and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Then, on Thursday, a fresh economic report showed the economy falling short of Trump’s forecasts, even though Trump’s economic stimulus — a tax cut and spending increases — will add some $2 trillion to the deficit. Constitutional restraint, personal responsibility, human rights, fiscal conservatism: As recently as 2015, these were Republican principles, now sadly extinct. How apt — except the president is a mad adventurer in service not to chivalry but to personal enrichment, while Republicans play Rocinante and Sancho Panza, his loyal nag and servant. Surely they know what they are doing harms the country. But they pull their heads into their shells, as good as extinct.
I often wonder who didn’t love Donald Trump. I often wonder who left an affection void that he has tried to fill by winning attention, which is not the same thing. He’s turned his life into a marketing strategy. As Michael Cohen said in his testimony on Wednesday, even the presidential campaign was a marketing campaign to build the Trump brand. In turning himself into a brand he’s turned himself into a human shell, so brittle and gilded that there is no place for people close to him to attach. His desperate attempts to be loved have made him unable to receive love. Imagine what your own life would be like if you had no love in it, if you were just using people and being used. Trump, personifying the worst elements in our culture, is like a providentially sent gong meant to wake us up and direct us toward a better path. Nonetheless, his kind of life has an allure for other lonely people who also live under the illusion that you can win love and respect with bling and buzz. Michael Cohen was one of these people. He testified that in serving Donald Trump he felt he was serving a cause larger than self. Those causes were celebrity and wealth. He was like Donald Trump Jr. — living in Trump’s orbit, desperate for approval, not realizing that it would never come because Donald Trump is incapable of hearing any cries except the roar of his own hungers.
Getting arrested seems to have been a good education for Cohen. He now realizes that Trump will not provide him with the sustenance he needs. I believe that Cohen basically told the truth in his testimony on Wednesday, but I don’t believe that he is a changed man. There is none of the purgation of self and transformation of spirit that happens among people who have truly been altered. He’s just switched teams and concluded that the Democrats can now give him what he wants, so he says what appeals to them. That may be progress, but it is not moral renewal. Cohen has left the Thugs for Trump club and passed that baton to certain House Republicans. I would have loved to have been in the strategy session when the House Republicans decided to be incurious about Trump’s sins and crimes but to rip the skin off Cohen. Normal people have moral sentiments. Normal people are repulsed when the president of their own nation lies, cheats, practices bigotry, allegedly pays off porn star mistresses. Were Republican House members enthusiastic or morose as they decided to turn off their own moral circuits, when they decided to be monumentally unconcerned by the fact that their leader may be a moral cretin? Do they think that having anesthetized their moral sense in this case they will simply turn it on again down the road? Having turned off their soul at work, do they think they will be able to turn it on again when they go home to the spouse and kids? This is how moral corrosion happens. Supporting Trump requires daily acts of moral distancing, a process that means that after a few months you are tolerant of any corruption. You are morally numb to everything. You end up where Representative Jim Jordan blandly ended up Wednesday, in referring to the hush-money scheme: “I think it’s news we knew about.”
I’ve heard the rationalizations. This is gang warfare. We have to do everything we can to defend our team. The other team leaves us no choice. Those are the sorts of things people say to give themselves permission to yield to their venal ambitions. Those are the sorts of things rookies and amateurs say. Professionals know that effectiveness in any realm, especially politics, depends on having some guiding and consistent integrity that people can trust, loyalty to something higher than your next appearance on Fox or MSNBC. Here is the commandment that experience teaches us: Immorality usually bites you in the ass. If you behave in a way that betrays relationship and obliterates the truth and erases your own integrity, you will sooner or later wind up where Michael Cohen has wound up — having ruined your life. In “East of Eden,” John Steinbeck writes: “Humans are caught — in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too — in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last. … A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard clean questions: was it good or was it evil? Have I done well — or ill.” That is the passage that confronts us as we decide to defend or condemn Trump. The moral drama is the central drama. Did you, at your crucial moment, side with generosity or greed?
For the most part Cohen confirmed what is already known about Donald Trump: He is violent, racist, a misogynist, dishonest and likely a criminal. Cohen delivered at least one great line with his warning to the Republicans in the hearing room and anyone else who remains loyal to Donald Trump: “I’m responsible for your silliness. I did the same thing that you’re doing now for 10 years. I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years. I can only warn people, the more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did blindly are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering.” How did the Republicans on the Oversight Committee behave? Horribly, which was as expected. They seem to have discovered moral outrage towards liars while defending and valorizing Donald Trump, a man who has lied at least 8,000 times since becoming president. At no point did any Republican members even try to contradict any of Cohen’s major claims about Donald Trump’s behavior and involvement in likely criminal acts. Once again, Republicans showed themselves to be Donald Trump’s co-conspirators rather than responsible stewards of American democracy.
How did the Democrats behave? They were genuinely interested in trying to help the American people and the world gain insight into President Trump’s behavior and character by hearing the sworn testimony from a person who was one of his closest allies and confidants. The Democrats also asked specific questions about how Cohen aided and abetted Trump’s morally compromised and perhaps illegal behavior. As has been the norm for some time in America, but especially during the Obama and Trump presidencies, the Democrats were the adults in the room while the Republicans acted like tantrum-throwing babies in soiled diapers. Nothing that happened during that hearing is likely to alter public opinion significantly. Both Donald Trump’s supporters and his detractors will feel vindicated by Cohen’s testimony and the surrounding theatrics.
Where does this leave the majority of the American people, most of whom do not follow politics closely? They are fatigued by the Trump-Russia scandal. New research from PRRI shows that the American people are highly polarized and extremely divided. Trump’s support may be softening among some key voters, including the “white working class” in the Rust Belt states. There has also been a softening of support for Trump among some “Obama to Trump” voters (a small proportion of the electorate). But in total, Trump remains remarkably popular among Republican voters. In the Western narrative tradition, stories usually follow a three-act structure, with a beginning, a middle and an end. They also follow a pattern: there is the introduction, rising action, a climax, a complication, falling action, and then a conclusion and resolution. When special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump-Russia scandal is finally made public, regardless of its findings — and they will likely be very damning for Donald Trump, his inner circle, the Republican Party and the larger right-wing movement — there will be no neat and tidy conclusion to this American drama-nightmare. That too will be another chapter in this interminable story. Trump’s cultists will not abandon their Great Leader. Liberals, progressives and other principled people of conscience will be disgusted and sickened that Trump remains in power and could well be re-elected in 2020.
The average American will just be further exhausted by what they see as a broken government that does not protect and serve their well-being and best interests. Faith in the very idea of government will be further undermined. The plutocrats and the kleptocrats, as always, will find a way to increase their wealth and in doing so expand their power and control over society. Authoritarianism is good for business. They are opportunists: A broken government is a carcass that they can devour with ease and at their leisure. This should be understood as the ultimate goal of “plutocratic populist” leaders such as Donald Trump. That the American people and the country’s elites are unwilling or incapable of uniting around a basic and obvious truth — Donald Trump and his movement are illegitimate and represent a dire threat to American democracy and the safety and security of the American people — reflects a profound and deep cultural problem. It cannot be fixed by impeachment or the 25th Amendment, or even by voting to elect a different president next year. Trump is a symptom of a much larger disease. Trumpism and the proto-fascist upsurge he represents are an outgrowth of alienation, social atomization, racism, bigotry, anti-intellectualism, wealth and income inequality, loneliness and a breakdown in America’s civil, cultural and political institutions.
What Republicans proved Wednesday more than anything is that they live in a bubble where they just have no idea—or no concern—about how they come across to the majority of the world that lives outside it. If we are indeed living in a reality TV presidency, the reality TV show of this hearing would be called “America’s Stupidest Prosecutors.” They really thought they were scoring points by puffing out their chests and calling Cohen a pathological liar. There was Midwestern manly man and former wrestling coach Jim Jordan pointing his manly man index finger at the dweeby Jewish lawyer, thinking he was proving something. Proving what? What the dweeby lawyer already said about himself? Of course he was a liar. He was a scoundrel and a scumbag. He all but threatened the life of a Daily Beast colleague. He was a disgusting thug.
I’d love to have been a cockroach on the floor of the caucus room where the committee Republicans all went to convene during the afternoon break. Oh, what they must have said! Jordan’s and Meadows’ neck veins must’ve been about to burst. They didn’t touch him, and while they’re idiots, they have to know they didn’t touch him. Although… for the rest of this week, something will happen that will set everything right in their world. They’ll saunter into the studios of Pravda TV and Comrade Hannity will assure them that they were great, and all the good tovarischi out there sitting in their easy chairs will harrumph. That’s life in the bubble. That chest-thumping, those Howard Beale theatrics… they don’t generally work in a courtroom, or in a hearing room. Brett Kavanaugh conspicuously aside, you’re supposed to keep your cool on TV. First thing the coaches tell you: Let the other guy blow a gasket. Just sit there and nod. And when your turn comes, speak forcefully but clearly and coolly.
These Freedom Caucusers don’t get any of that. But they’re not playing to you and me, or to your average on-the-fence viewer. They’re playing to Pravda, where they will duly receive their affirmation; and then they’ll look up in a few days and see the polls all showing that most Americans agree that Cohen seems now to be telling the truth, and they’ll assign it all to a great liberal media plot, a conspiracy so immense, as their godhead Joe McCarthy used to say, when in fact it’s nothing of the sort—it’s just the bubble they live in, a bubble where Donald Trump is not a racist crook thug and the leader of North Korea is a man of peace and the children at the border are happily brocading flowers and, finally, where hauling an African-American woman up to the rostrum as a speechless exhibit prop is not in any way racially weird but is somehow proof of the opposite of racism.
They are crazy. They have no understanding of contemporary morality (what did they think they were proving by getting Cohen to admit he’d like to spend less time in prison?). And yet, they have half of Congress, so the rest of us have to take them seriously. But there are a few people who don’t have to take them seriously: Robert Mueller, and the folks at the Southern District of New York. The only reactions to this we really need to care about are theirs.
“I’m responsible for your silliness because I did the same thing you’re doing now, for 10 years,” Cohen responded. “I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years.” As Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., pointed out in a memorable sound bite, it’s not that Republicans are outraged about Cohen’s past lies, it’s that “they’re afraid you’re going to tell the truth.” Of course, as Cohen stated clearly and emphatically, he didn’t just expect people to take him at his word. As he indicated in his opening remarks, he brought receipts: Copies of checks Trump signed to reimburse him for the illegal hush money paid to Stormy Daniels to cover up their sexual encounter, evidence of Trump’s fraudulent use of his nonprofit foundation, and even evidence that Cohen had threatened the schools Trump had attended in order to hide his grades and test scores.
None of this, however, stopped Republicans — one after another, in a drearily repetitious performance — from grandstanding about how terrible of a person Cohen was and how awful it was that he had told lies in the past. Somehow or other, Cohen’s tarnished character is supposed to exonerate the man who hired him and deployed him for a decade as a fixer. Various GOP congressmen even tried to paint Trump as the victim, asking Cohen repeatedly about a hypothetical book or movie deal — which do not exist — as if Cohen somehow owes silence to a former boss who turned his back on him after asking him to cover up his corruption for a decade. Republicans didn’t even pretend to be interested in the truth about any of the substantive matters Cohen came to discuss. They simply went all out in running defense for Trump and repeating White House talking points. Even under those circumstances, it was difficult to understand their strategy. If their goal is to convince the American public that Trump is not a criminal, repeatedly reminding people that his right-hand man for a decade is now on his way to prison for the numerous crimes he committed on Trump’s behalf seems ill-advised.
But here’s the thing: Republicans aren’t really trying to convince anyone of anything. The entire pathetic display was calculated toward one goal: Giving Trump supporters an excuse to dismiss Cohen’s testimony. For this reason, the defense didn’t need to be coherent, much less persuasive. Republicans simply needed to strike a pose of moral indignation and toss out some incoherent catchphrases that their voters can cling to. There was also a side benefit here: Watching one Republican after another advance this self-contradictory, dishonest nonsense was enough to drive any viewer of good faith slightly mad with rage. And Republicans of our era don’t mind making fools of themselves, so long as they’re successfully trolling the liberals. Despite the Republican distractions and theatrics, though, Cohen’s testimony against Trump was a sobering reminder of how dire the current situation is. Cohen painted a picture of an operation — first the Trump Organization and then the 2016 Trump campaign — that not only was comfortable with criminal deceit and fraud, but frankly abhorred any kind of ethical behavior.
But if Republicans thought that Cohen, in his currently broken state, would cower before them, they had another think coming. Whenever they came after Cohen, his old belligerent self — the man who, by his own admission, threatened people on a regular basis for Trump — peeked out. He shamed Republicans for their current dishonesty and warned them, repeatedly, of the dangers he knows too well of doing unethical things for a man who has no loyalty to anyone but himself. Those people who “follow Mr. Trump as I did, blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering,” Cohen warned. Republicans on the House Oversight Committee did not, however, heed his warning, continuing to fake outrage and spin out incoherent lies and fantasies that serve no other purpose but to cover for a manifestly corrupt president whose extensive history of criminality are beginning to come into focus. It would be nice if Michael Cohen were right and everyone who lies for Trump gets their just desserts. That’s certainly what happened to him. But Republicans are so brazen in their corruption for a simple reason: They know that thanks to gerrymandering and the disproportionate representation of voters in rural areas and red states, most of them hold safe seats in Congress. They can lie and cover up Trump’s crimes until the end of time and conservative voters in their districts will continue to support them, doggedly and even enthusiastically, as long as they continue to dish out racist and sexist policies.
Watching the Republicans spend the hearing attacking Cohen over his known and confessed offenses, instead of listening to what he has to say, makes clear that’s not going to happen — certainly not now, and likely not before the next presidential election. Despite this, Cohen’s testimony was still addictive TV. Having him sadly but determinedly lay out what he learned from a decade of working for a man he described as a “racist,” a “con man,” and a “cheat” was valuable, even if there was no real doubt about any of those things before this. It’s difficult, amid the constant reality-show chaos that Trump constantly rains down on us, to step back and absorb the fact that 62,985,106 Americans were so attached to their bigotry and blindness that they were willing to hand the White House over to a shameless grifter rather than a woman who supports social progress. Cohen’s long recounting of so many stories about Trump’s corruption was a necessary reminder of the moral rot that led to Trump’s nomination and election in the first place, along with the moral rot that protects him today. Cohen is going to federal prison for his role in all this, something he reminded the committee frequently in his bouts of self-pity. His warning — or was it a curse? — was that everyone else who played a role in empowering Donald Trump will come to regret it as well. The 65,853,625 Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton, who tried to prevent this from happening, can only hope that his prophecy will come true.
Who was your favorite? Was it Paul Gosar of Arizona, the guy whose entire family made a commercial for his opponent the last time he ran? (Gosar struggled so long with the phrase, “pathological liar” that he gave Cohen to opportunity to ask,”Are you referring to me or to the president?”) Was it jacketless Clay Higgins of Louisiana, who once filmed a campaign spot at Auschwitz? (Cohen mentioned at one point that he’d consulted some documents that were stored in boxes. Higgins demanded that a warrant be served on the boxes only to be told that Robert Mueller already had examined the contents and returned the boxes to Cohen. Unbelievably, these boxes came up again a few minutes later.)
Was it Bob Gibbs of Ohio, who seemed to drift away to Oz in the middle of his sentences, or Carol Miller of West Virginia, who was simply appalled at being a part of this when the committee could be discussing “neo-natal abstinence syndrome,” a condition afflicting newborns due to their mother’s drug use in utero? A worthy topic, surely, but hardly the provenance of the House Oversight Committee. And everybody kept yielding time to the egregious ranking Republican member, Jim Jordan of Ohio, or to Jordan’s fellow Freedom Caucasian, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, and those two jamokes couldn’t get out of their own way. Jordan insisted that some dark—Dare he say, Clintonian?—forces were behind Cohen’s testimony, using the name of Lanny Davis, the old Clinton hand who is Cohen’s attorney, as a conjuring word. Jordan expressed surprise that Cohen might have consulted with the chairmen of other committees before which he might testify. He got so insufferable that Steve Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts, went all Southie on Jordan’s mug, running through a litany of people connected with the Trump campaign and/or the administration* who have been arrested, indicted, convicted, or copped a plea.
This sent Jordan, who’s been peddling the deep-state nonsense for two years now, into orbit. Comey! McCabe! Strzok! Page! Rosenstein! 25th Amendment! And this was the guy to whom The Cousin Nobody Likes, the collected probate court judges of the Confederate States of America, and Auschwitz Guy yielded their time. As for Meadows, well, he thought he had something going with an item regarding contracts with foreign clients on a disclosure form that Cohen had signed, only to have Cohen point out that, contrary to Meadows’s obvious reading deficits, the form referred only to foreign governments, for whom he had not worked. Meadows thundered away that Cohen was dodging the truth only to have a copy of the form pop up all over the Intertoobz in about 15 minutes, just long enough for Congresswoman Katie Hill to read it into the record and make Meadows look like a fool. “You’d think they’d have had more than that,” Steve Lynch said later. “I don’t think any of them asked any questions about the possible criminal actions by the president.”
Yet Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in their frantic effort to discredit Mr. Cohen, went after him while steadfastly ignoring the actual evidence he produced. They tried to impugn his character, but were unable to impugn the documents he provided. Nor did a single Republican offer a character defense of Mr. Trump. It turns out that was too much, even for them. In that sense, what Republicans didn’t say reveals the truth about what happened at the hearing on Wednesday as much as what they did say. Republicans showed no interest, for example, in pursuing fresh allegations made by Mr. Cohen that Mr. Trump knew that WikiLeaks planned to release hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee in the summer of 2016. In a sane world, the fact that the president’s former lawyer produced evidence that the president knowingly and deceptively committed a federal crime — hush money payments that violated campaign finance laws — is something that even members of the president’s own party would find disquieting. But not today’s Republican Party.
Instead, in the most transparent and ham-handed way, they saw no evil and heard no evil, unless it involved Mr. Cohen. Republicans on the committee tried to destroy the credibility of his testimony, not because they believe that his testimony is false, but because they fear it is true. By now Republicans must know, deep in their hearts, that Mr. Cohen’s portrayal of Mr. Trump as a “racist,” “a con man” and “a cheat” is spot on. So it is the truth they fear, and it is the truth — the fundamental reality of the world as it actually is — that they feel compelled to destroy. This is the central organizing principle of the Republican Party now. More than tax cuts. More than trade wars. More even than building a wall on our southern border. Republicans are dedicated to annihilating truth in order to defend Mr. Trump and they will go after anyone, from Mr. Cohen to Robert Mueller, who is a threat to him. He is their emperor, and they are his political Praetorian Guard.
A second thing that stands out from Mr. Cohen’s testimony is that the Republican Party has been as corrupted by its association with Mr. Trump as Mr. Cohen was by his. As Mr. Cohen told Republican lawmakers, “I did the same thing that you’re doing now. For 10 years. I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years.” He then issued this warning to them: “The more people that follow Mr. Trump — as I did blindly — are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering.” Mr. Cohen later explained the ethos of Trumpworld: “Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization is to protect Mr. Trump. Every day most of us knew we were coming and we were going to lie for him about something. That became the norm.” The ethic that became the norm at the Trump Organization —- defacing the truth and disfiguring reality in the service of Donald J. Trump — is the ethic that has become the norm of the Republican Party and the American right. This is what some of us who are conservatives and who have been lifelong Republicans have warned since Mr. Trump began his quest for the presidency — that his corruptions would eventually become theirs.
It didn’t take long. The way these things happen is simple and insidious. In this case, because Mr. Trump was their party’s nominee, many Republicans felt duty bound to defend him, even though they would from time to time call him out for his worst offenses. They also held out the hope that Mr. Trump would grow in office and become more presidential. What happened is quite different: As Mr. Trump was elected and then inaugurated, Republicans became more and more reluctant to call him out and more and more vocal in defending him and attacking his critics; rather than weakening, their loyalty to him intensified. And the president, rather than becoming more responsible, has become less restrained, more volatile, more unhinged. The result is the ethical wreckage we saw on display Wednesday. Republicans should brace for even more damaging revelations. The evidence presented on Wednesday was harmful to the president, but Mr. Cohen quite likely revealed only a small fraction of what the Southern District of New York and the Mueller investigation have amassed. Mr. Cohen did suggest that federal prosecutors are investigating unspecified criminal allegations involving the president that have not been made public. When this story is finally told — when the sordid details are revealed, the dots finally connected — the Republican Party will be the political and institutional version of Mr. Cohen, who squandered his integrity in the service of a man of borderless corruption.