2021-01-26 21:10:13 | Rubio believes presidents like Trump are above the law



Story by: Charlie Sykes NBC News

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., would like us to think of him as a serious thinker.

He has, he assures us, ideas about the future of American politics and, befitting someone who was once upon a time touted as the “savior” of the Republican Party, he frequently shares bits of Holy Scripture on his Twitter feed.

Rubio is consistent: He insists that holding Trump accountable is more polarizing than Trump’s actual behavior.

It is not always clear what political message he intends. Back in June 2017, for example, he shared Proverbs 26:11 with his followers: “As dogs return to their vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”

On Sunday, he shared Mark 1:17: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Shortly after, Rubio went on Fox News and proceeded to dumb down the debate over the impeachment of former President Donald Trump. The whole idea of the trial, he told host Chris Wallace, was “stupid.”

Trump has been impeached for inciting the riot at the Capitol aimed at overturning a free and fair democratic election. But holding him accountable through a trial is both stupid and “counterproductive,” the Florida senator insisted, adding, “The first chance I get to vote to end this trial, I’ll do it because I think it’s really bad for America.”

“We already have a flaming fire in this country,” he insisted, “and it’s like taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top of the fire.” (Rubio has some experience with gasoline and fire. In November, after a pro-Trump caravan swarmed a Biden campaign bus in Texas, Rubio gushed at a Trump rally: “I saw yesterday a video of these people in Texas. Did you see it? All the cars on the road, we love what they did.”)

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Despite his fawning support, Rubio has reportedly been threatened with a primary challenge from Ivanka Trump. So, like most other GOP senators, he would prefer to ignore the fire this time.

This requires some serious pretzel logic. Rubio argued that the disgraced former president was “entitled to be present, you know, for testimony and evidence if necessary,” and criticized the House for not having “much of a record of witnesses and so forth, because they frankly rammed it through very quickly.”

The point about witnesses is ironic, since Rubio himself voted against hearing any witnesses during Trump’s first trial.

At the time, he claimed he could not vote to convict “even if I assumed the President did everything the House alleges,” because, he said, that would worsen “the bitter divisions and deep polarization our country currently faces.”

To that extent, Rubio is consistent: He insists that holding Trump accountable is more polarizing than Trump’s actual behavior.

The point about witnesses is ironic, since Rubio himself voted against hearing any witnesses during Trump’s first trial.

Still, dwelling on that behavior now is “stupid,” even though less than three weeks ago, a mob stormed the Capitol in a riot that resulted in five deaths. They did so at the invitation of the president, who had fed them the false narrative that Congress might nullify the election and keep him in power.

Trump’s conduct that day, the article of impeachment notes, “followed his prior efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election. Those prior efforts included a phone call on January 2, 2021, during which President Trump urged the secretary of state of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, to ‘find’ enough votes to overturn the Georgia Presidential election results and threatened Secretary Raffensperger if he failed to do so.”

That phone call followed months of Trump’s lies about the election. The president and his allies floated bizarre conspiracy theories about rigged machines, massive fraud and stolen votes that were debunked in one court case after another. At the same time, Trump was attempting to induce governors and legislatures to void the popular vote in their states.

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He rallied public support to get members of Congress to reject the Electoral College votes cast by the states. When all of that failed, he pushed the fantastic and clearly unconstitutional notion that then-Vice President Mike Pence could unilaterally overturn the election.

All the while, Trump dialed up the rhetoric. In December, Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling pleaded with Trump to “stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.”

“Someone is going to get hurt,” he warned the president. “Someone is going to get shot, someone is going to get killed, and it’s not right.”

Nevertheless, Trump pushed ahead with his furious effort to cling to power. We now know that he contemplated ousting the acting attorney general and was pushing the Justice Department to get the Supreme Court to invalidate President Joe Biden’s victory.

And when all of that failed, he turned to the mob, repeatedly inviting the Make America Great Again, or MAGA, world to rally in the nation’s capital Jan. 6, the day a joint session of Congress would certify the presidential election, as required by the Constitution. “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” he tweeted Dec. 19. “Be there, will be wild!”

“We will never give up,” he told the crowd that day. “We will never concede. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”

The president and his allies floated bizarre conspiracy theories about rigged machines, massive fraud, and stolen votes that were debunked in one court case after another.

When it was over, five people were dead. A mob hunted the vice president and the speaker of the House. Members of Congress were forced into hiding. The presidential count was delayed. The Capitol had been breached for the first time since the War of 1812.

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The attack was not merely another protest run amok. It was not simply another instance of urban disorder. It was literally an attack on the democratic process, instigated by the president of the United States. It was an attack by the executive branch on the legislative branch – an unprecedented event in American history. As the House article of impeachment argues, Trump “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government.”

The trial of Trump will determine whether he will be held constitutionally accountable for any of this.

But Rubio thinks it is divisive. By implication, he’s arguing that actually holding Trump responsible for the consequences of his actions will do more damage than his cascade of lies, attempts to subvert the election and incitement of an actual assault on the Capitol.

It is an embarrassing argument even for someone as embarrassing as Rubio has become. He could have confronted the gravity of the moment. He could have weighed the constitutional and historic weight of Trump’s betrayal of his oath. But, like most of his fellow Republicans, he wants to deflect the seriousness of his responsibility.

Rubio is dumbing it down because he wants to avoid facing his moral, political and constitutional responsibility. Instead of rising to the occasion, he wants to shrink it down to his own size.

Other senators will hide behind procedure and questionable legal theories. Others will pretend that we can move on to healing without accountability.

But one way or another, the Senate’s verdict will set a precedent; are presidents above the law? Can one branch of government orchestrate an assault on another? What are the consequences for attempting to seize power through a coup?

Finally, Sen. Mitt Romney asks the central question: If incitement to insurrection is not an impeachable offense, then “what is?”



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Source References: NBC News

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