Tuesday, 11 August 2020 15:21

[OPINION] The Hall of Shame For GOP Silence on Trump - Lanny J. Davis

Here are the U.S. Republican senators who have failed to speak out and challenge President Donald Trump publicly on just four (of many) core issues that violate their own conservative principles and the U.S. Constitution, or both.

1) When the president went to St. John’s Church and used the military and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to accompany him at a political event, and then he held up the Bible (upside down) after his attorney general, William Barr, authorized clearing a peaceful crowd of protesters with tear gas-like chemicals.

Even the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed regret publicly about his participation in this Trump political stunt.

2) When the president ignored Article I’s exclusive power to Congress to tax and spend when he issued his executive orders last Friday – another meaningless political stunt.

3) When the president repeatedly ignored the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis in February, March, April and still, to this day, and continues to mock and isolate Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical experts who recommended mandatory masks and other techniques to save lives.

4) Perhaps most shameful of all: The Republican senators’ inexplicable silence about the president’s refusal (still) to challenge publicly Vladimir Putin’s bounty payments to the Taliban, supported by Intel evidence that even concerned his own National Security Council staff, to reward the killing of American GIs.

Below is a list of current Republican senators who have remained silent about the above conduct by President Trump. There are of course dozens of other examples that called for public challenge by courageous Republican senators who should have put principle above party and their own reelection chances, but who did not. But the above are recent examples of Trump acting in a fashion entirely antithetical to their own Republican conservative principles and right vs. wrong. Yet they persisted – in remaining silent.

Someday I believe their children and grandchildren and historians will be asking: “Why?”

Each of them might reconsider if they remembered the example set by Republican Maine Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, who took the floor of the Senate on June 1, 1950, at the height of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s power and danger, to make her now famous “declaration of conscience” to challenge McCarthy openly when other senators remained silent, to their historic shame.

Here is the list of Republican senators whose silence merits their membership in the historic Hall of Shame.

Those with three asterisks (***) next to their names indicate they are up for reelection and even more so deserve to be defeated for the reason alone of their shameful silence.

Only four Republican senators are not on this list because they have been willing to speak up to challenge Trump publicly on one or more of these issues: Most of all—Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Rob Portman (Ohio). Also just barely omitted from the list are two other Republican senators who have at times objected to the words and conduct of the president, but you would barely know it: Sens. Jim Lankford (Okla.) and Tim Scott (S.C.).

The rest have been almost entirely silent, and thus, belong in the Hall of Shame (as of Aug. 8, 2020):

Richard Shelby (Ala.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Martha McSally (Ariz.)***/, Tom Cotton (Ark.), Cory Gardner (Colo.)***/, Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rick Scott (Fla.), David Perdue (Ga.)***/, Kelly Loeffler (Ga.)***/, Mike Crapo (Idaho), Jim Risch (Idaho), Todd Young (Ind.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Joni Ernst (Iowa)***/, Pat Roberts (Kan.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.)***/, Rand Paul (Ky.), Bill Cassidy (La.), John Kennedy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine)***/, Roger Wicker (Miss.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Steve Daines (Mont.)***/, Deb Fisher (Neb.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) ***/, John Hoeven (N.D.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Jim Imhofe (Okla.), James Lankford (Okla.), Pat Toomey (Pa.).

A special word about Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) ***. He may be the most shameful of all. His words about Trump when he ran against him in 2016 are as true today as then. Yet even when Trump insulted Graham’s dear friend, the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for being “weak” in allowing himself to be captured by the North Vietnamese, or when Trump refused (at first) to lower federal flags at half-mast upon the death of McCain, even then Graham shamefully remained silent.

Continuing: John Thune (S.D.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), John Cornyn (Texas), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Shelley Moore Caputo (W.Va.). Ron Johnson (Wis.), next to Lindsey Graham, is the second most shameful Republican U.S. senator, not only for his silence on Trump, but for repeating Russian propaganda on the “Ukraine conspiracy” while remaining silent about evidence of Russia paying bounties in Afghanistan to kill US GIs; Mike Enzi (Wyo.), John Barrasso (Wyo.).

It is not too late for all of these conservative Republican senators to state, as former Florida Republican conservative Rep. Joe Scarborough, so often has:

“Donald Trump has betrayed conservative, Republican principles. We can no longer be silent that the Party of Trump is not the Republican Party.”

If any reader agrees, you are free to find the local newspaper of one or more of the senators and write a letter to the editor, especially to those with the three “***”, who are up for re-election. You can remind local readers that their senator has been shamefully silent on Trump’s repudiation of traditional conservative and moral principles. And you should also post on Twitter or other social media with the hashtag: “#RepublicanHallofShame.”

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Davis served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton (1996-98.) He is co-founder of the law firm of Davis Goldberg & Galper and the strategic media and crisis management firm, Trident DMG, in Washington, D.C. He served on President George W. Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (2006-07). He is author of “Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics and Life” (Simon & Schuster – Threshold 2013). Davis can be followed on Twitter @LannyDavis.


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