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Truth isn’t truth? We’ll see



War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.

George Orwell, 1984

Republicans were out in force yesterday trying to defend Giuliani’s Orwellian statement, “Truth isn’t truth”—itself reminiscent of Kellyanne Conway’s infamous “alternative facts” howler of last year. One former Trump aide, who appeared on MSNBC, explained Giluilani’s comment this way (I paraphrase): “Yes, truth is truth. But sometimes, people string together facts in a way that reaches a fictional conclusion.”

Let’s break that down. In a trial—which the Mueller investigation is, in a way: a trial before the American people—unless the defendant confesses, the jury—we, the People—have to “string together facts” in order to reach a reasonable conclusion. There’s a crime (let’s say a body is found with a bullet through the brain). The authorities determine it was murder most foul. The defendant was found at the scene of the crime, splattered in blood that matched the victim’s DNA. The defendant’s fingerprints were found on a gun that police determined fired the fatal bullet. The defendant had no alibi, but he did have a motive for doing away with the victim. We, the jury, deliberate; the defendant and his lawyer insist the District Attorney has not proved the case, that there is a reasonable doubt. What are we to do?

We “string the facts” together and reach the only conclusion a reasonable person can: despite his repeated denials, the defendant is guilty as charged.

In Rudy Giuliani’s (and Donald Trump’s) universe, though, things aren’t that simple. The evidence that Trump conspired and colluded with a foreign power, and that he obstructed justice, is overwhelming. So is the evidence of his violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, and there are probably a dozen other crimes for which Mueller will find evidence of guilt. But Giuliani and his master, Trump, are aware that humans can be guided as much by emotions as by rationality. And they are perfectly willing to play to the anger, fear, resentment and hatred of their base, in order to let Trump off the hook.

In actual fact, in a trial, the jury is urged, under our jurisprudential system, to put aside emotions in favor of reason. Emotions, in the words of a legal scholar, are inconsistent with the very norms that govern and legitimate the judicial power.” Rather than going by feelings, jurors are instructed that their standard of proof must be “a preponderance of the evidence.”

Were Giuliani and Trump to tell the American people that simple fact, upon which our system of law has long been based, they know that they would be in hot water. The “preponderance of evidence” is clear concerning Trump’s crimes. It’s not just MSNBC liberals who think so; even the conservative writer Max Boot, a Republican scholar who worked for the Wall Street Journal and now is at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that Trump is committing obstruction “in plain sight,” and he adds, tellingly, “The impeachment proceedings would have already started if congressional Republicans weren’t colluding with Trump to obstruct justice.”

 Which congressional Republicans are colluding with Trump to obstruct justice? Too many to list here: 51 in the Senate and about 240 in the House. However, if we were to conduct trials after Trump is impeached or quits in which the chief congressional colluders were brought to justice the way we brought the leading Nazi war criminals to justice in Nuremberg after World War II, my list would include Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Steve Scalise, John Cornyn, Thad Cochran and Shelly Capito. Of course, narrowing the list to only a dozen or so makes a trial more wieldy, but really, the entire Republican caucus should be put before the bar and tried—including, sadly, the dying John McCain, who was silent for far too long.

This probably isn’t possible. Members of Congress seem to be granted immunity from prosecution for things they say in the Congress—only the Congress can punish itself, according to Article 1 of the Constitution, so it’s unlikely that we’ll ever be able to hold these Republicans accountable.

But what we can do is make them marginal by retaking both Houses of Congress, holding hearings, undoing as much of Trump’s damage as we can through reform legislation, and bringing public ridicule and shame on recalcitrant Republicans who refuse to renounce their collusion with a disgraced president.

I fully expect and believe that we’re nearing the End Game. The Mueller Report will be devastating. Republicans will lose the House and quite possibly the Senate this November. The Republicans who remain will then face a dire choice: whether to get onboard with the American people and have a “come to Jesus moment” in which they admit their former sins, or whether to find themselves in a very hard, very stressful political and personal place.

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