Republican Senators Are Now Admitting Trump’s Pressure on Ukraine Was Wrong

Evan Vucci/AP

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Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) went on Meet The Press on Sunday and said President Donald Trump’s actions in the Ukraine scandal were “improper“—Trump was “crossing the line” by hinging millions in aid on investigating a political opponent—but it was not an impeachable offense. Trump was maybe just incompetent, he argued. Plus, there is an election coming up. Let the people decide, Alexander shrugged.

When host Chuck Todd asked if Trump would be emboldened to commit other wrongs because of the lack of consequences Alexander said he “hoped not.”

The comments are essentially in line with the explanation he gave for his Thursday statement saying he would not vote to call witnesses during the Senate’s impeachment trial. And the somber scolding without action has become the talking point for other Republicans, too: Centrists giving their energy to grave, meaningless finger-wagging—the default position of the party under Trump—instead of actually investigating the actions they find “wrong.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said on Sunday on CNN that Trump dealt with Ukraine “maybe in the wrong manner.” Ohio’s Senator Rob Portman said in a statement earlier this week it was “wrong” and “inappropriate” to ask another country’s leader to dig up dirt on a political opponent—it just doesn’t not “rise to the level” of removing him from office. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said in a Medium post on Friday that Trump’s action were impeachable—but that he shouldn’t be removed from his office. His reasoning was “impeachment must be bipartisan and must enjoy broad public support.” This is, of course, a Catch-22: For Republicans to support impeachment it has to be bipartisan; for impeachment to be bipartisan Republicans have to support it. But no matter. “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office,” Rubio concludes.

All three voted against hearing new witnesses. Meanwhile, a few hours after the vote for no witnesses, the Trump administration admitted there were emails discussing the holding of aid for Ukraine that could reveal Trump’s thinking. (Read: evidence that should probably be considered.) Only two Republicans voted to hear witnesses and new evidence: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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