“Not a Crime”: Republican Senators Try Out Their Impeachment Defenses

“People do things. Things happen.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swears in senators for President Trump's impeachment trial.Senate Television/AP

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President Donald Trump’s senatorial allies-slash-jurors hit the Sunday news shows to try out their best defenses of him ahead of his impeachment trial, which begins on Tuesday.

On ABC’s This Week, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) disputed the fact that the president has encouraged foreign  interference in US elections. “Do you think it was proper to solicit foreign interference in our election?” George Stephanopoulos asked Shelby. “I don’t know if that’s actually been proven. That’s in dispute,” Shelby said. 

When Stephanopoulos pointed out that Trump has publicly called for foreign election interference, Shelby argued that those statements were only “political.” “They make them all the time…People make them. People do things. Things happen.”

Meanwhile, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), denied the findings of a watchdog report from the Government Accountability Office, which found that the Trump administration had violated the law by withholding aid to Ukraine. The president’s actions were “certainly not a crime,” he asserted on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Over on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) argued that testimony from Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of presidential lawyer Rudy Guiliani, should not be permitted in the Senate because it is “second-hand information.” “This is a distraction,” Perdue said.

“How is it second hand? He was in Ukraine,” Chuck Todd said. “He was doing the bidding.”

Perdue then seemed to imply that Parnas, in fact, had no reliable evidence and was only acting to “have his sentence reduced.”

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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