Pelosi gives Republicans the impeachment process they asked for, and now they're stuck with it
In their exhausting task of trying to defend President Donald Trump's fishy behavior in the Ukraine scandal, Republicans on Capitol Hill have been flailing this way and that, propping up questionable arguments, only to watch them fall like dominoes.
So far, violating -- or maybe illustrating -- the Washington maxim that if you're arguing about process, you're losing, Trump's congressional defenders have turned to complaining about the process of an impeachment inquiry that they never wanted in the first place.
Why? Simple. They'd rather argue about the process than try to mount a defense that only gives more attention to the evidence and testimonies that have been mounting against Trump by the day. The sheer volume of new names and revelations has made it difficult for Trump's Republican defenders to keep up.
So, instead of trying to fight on the substance, they complain about the process, even when they can't seem to get their story straight -- or keep it straight for more than a day or two at a time.
First they said Trump's July 25 phone call -- in which he instructed the president of Ukraine to dig up some dirt on Joe Biden -- was, in the president's words, "perfect."
Republicans also began to call the impeachment inquiry a sham because the full House hadn't voted on it and sharply attacked the participants for taking depositions behind closed doors.
That criticism began to fall apart even before the brash young Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz led about 30 other House Republicans to barge into a secure hearing room to disrupt the deposition of Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense.
The Republicans supposedly were protesting the absence of Republicans from the closed-door hearings. In fact, some of the protesters were members of the committees involved, which meant they already were welcome to attend. Cooper, an expert on Russia and Ukraine, testified a few hours later.
Trump, in a classic example of Trumpian overstatement, smeared the impeachment inquiry as a "lynching," even though the hearing that Gaetz and company invaded was held in accordance with rules set up by the House in 2015 when it had a Republican majority.
Over in the Senate, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina prepared a resolution, co-sponsored by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and signed by dozens of other Republicans, to condemn the inquiry as "illegitimate."