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After Donald Trump manages to read his State of the Union address tonight -- which he wrote every word of himself -- the Senate will get on to the important business tomorrow of acquitting him in his impeachment trial. Maybe Congress will take up Joe Manchin's proposal to censure Trump, but we wouldn't hold our breath on that, either.

In a speech before a near-empty Senate chamber yesterday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) explained why she simply couldn't vote to remove Donald Trump from office: Sure, he's terrible and did a terrible thing, but we're terrible too, so convicting him of the bad thing he did would be bad.

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Murkowski said the Senate had built a really good mechanism for trying a president accused of abuse of power, but it rested on a "rotted foundation" because the House rushed its investigation and didn't even send the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for a month. During which time, she quite noticeably did not say, we kept finding out even more damning evidence of Trump's scheme to get foreign help in the 2020 election.


Murkowski did at least say Trump's Ukraine scheme "was shameful and wrong," and that Trump's "personal interests do not take precedence over those of this great nation." Trump, she said, has degraded his office, making the presidency a lousier, weaker institution.

But rather than get into the particulars, Murkowski mostly condemned how there was so much arguing over the impeachment process instead of the particulars of the case against Trump. She even invoked some rhetoric from Federalist 65's condemnation of partisanship:

During the month that the House declined to transmit the articles to the Senate, the demon of faction extended his scepter. The outcome became clear. And a careless media cheerfully tried to put out the fires with gasoline. We debated witnesses instead of the case before the Senate. Rather than the president's conduct, the focus turned to how a lack of additional witnesses could be used to undermine any final conclusion.

All of which sounds like a very principled curse on both your Houses and the fourth estate, too, except that Murkowski's gripe was just more complaining about the process. Thanks a lot!

All of it, especially the horrifying thought that the Supreme Court would get involved if she had voted for witnesses or conviction, led Murkowski to conclude that a fair trial was impossible, and that a tie vote would just "burn down" the judicial branch too. So she would nope out of it all and vote with all the Republicans she had condemned a moment before for not even pretending to be impartial.

Once she'd adequately both-sidesed Congress and Trump, she fell back to more comfortable Republican talking points, explaining that you can't impeach a president who won a thin majority in the Electoral College. Besides, why did the House have to be so mean?

The response to the President's behavior is not to disenfranchise nearly 63 million Americans and remove him from the ballot. The House could have pursued censure and not immediately jumped to the remedy of last resort. I cannot vote to convict. The Constitution provides for impeachment, but does not demand it in all instances.

Murkowski excoriated Congress for not exercising its constitutional authority to rein in a rogue president, calling the impeachment the "apotheosis of the problem of congressional abdication":

Through the refusal to exercise war powers, or relinquishing the power of the purse, selective oversight and unwillingness to check emergency declarations designed to skirt Congress — we have failed.

And that's why, America, Lisa Murkowski had no choice but to vote against curbing Donald Trump's abuses of power. She is very brave that way.

Nihilists. Fuck me.

Oh, and also in the closing arguments yesterday, Adam Schiff managed to condemn the hyperpartisanship of Republicans bent on covering up Trump's behavior while still suggesting optimism is a viable alternative to just tossing your hands in the air and walking away.

Yeah, what he said.

[WaPo / NYT / CNN]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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