President Donald Trump stood on the lawn of the White House on Thursday morning and, in front of the entire world, called on foreign powers to interfere in American elections.
While taking questions from reporters about trade negotiations with China, Trump said, “I have a lot of options on China, but if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”
A few moments later, in response to a question about the president's political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, he went on to say, “Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.”
We've heard this before
It was nearly an identical repeat of his call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, when he first talked about the manner in which Ukraine benefited from U.S. power, and then followed up with his request for “a favor” by way of investigating Joe Biden.
The president of the United States of America just sent a clear message to all foreign entities that U.S. aid can be purchased through the support of the president’s reelection campaign, a notion that is entirely unethical, unconstitutional and un-American.
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Under any previous president, Thursday's brazen comments would have been met with Republican outrage. President Barack Obama would have been inundated by calls for impeachment by Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell and congressional Republicans. President George W. Bush would have faced the ire of the conservative base. Yet all of these so-called principled people stand silent as the president sells the integrity of American elections to the foreign country with the best opposition research team.
For nearly three years, Republicans have dismissed this president’s hateful, divisive rhetoric, his presidential incompetence and his constitutional ignorance as “Trump being Trump,” suggesting he is just a harmless guy from back home who got in a little over his head.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the American republic, and his performance on the White House lawn Thursday morning was simply the latest example. And yet, Republicans stand silent.
Time and again, they've neglected their duty
In fact, Republicans have gotten it wrong on this president in every way. They have stood silently by as Trump has stretched the Constitution to its limits. They have aided and abetted his racist assaults on Democrats in Congress and migrants at the border. They have defended his abuses of power and looked the other way as he has treated the presidency like a get-rich-quick scheme.
But it is on impeachment that congressional Republicans have most dramatically abandoned their oaths of office. Instead of treating the impeachment proceeding like the solemn constitutional procedure that it is, they have responded with cynical, predictable political spin, demeaning the Constitution and the American people in the process.
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The response of Republican Party leaders over the past two weeks has been nothing short of stunning. When House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was interviewed about the impeachment proceedings by "60 Minutes", he appeared to have not read the memo on the contents of the call with Ukrainian President Zelensky upon which the impeachment inquiries are based. Republicans in the House continue to repeat White House talking points about conspiracy theories and “perfect” phone calls. And Vice President Mike Pence reveals his own ethical deficiency when he joins calls for investigations of former Vice President Biden that he knows are based on false and discredited accusations.
Our nation faces great peril today, not because foreign tyrants are attempting to influence our elections, but because the president is openly inviting them to.
We are in peril because of a delusional, unstable president who believes he should have unfettered power to do anything he chooses without accountability.
But most of all, we face great peril because the leaders of the Republican Party continue to empower this crooked, morally corrupt, unbalanced president.
The most appalling thing that happened Thursday was not an American president calling on a foreign dictator to help him get reelected. The most appalling, disgraceful and scandalous thing was the silence emanating from Republican offices in Congress.
Jennifer Horn is a communications consultant and the former chairman of the Republican Party of New Hampshire, where she has lived for 18 years. She managed William Weld's primary challenge to Donald Trump from April 15 to June 14. Follow her on Twitter: @NHJennifer
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump's abuse of power is leaving too many Republicans silent