Mike Littwin: Trump is on the ropes and Cory Gardner is apparently off to NYC to be in his corner
There’s a crazy theory out there that if Democrats do this impeachment thing right and if Trump and team continue to react to this threat with what can only be described as unhinged behavior, some Senate Republicans, looking at the overwhelming evidence, will be forced to abandon Trump when/if Democrats send articles of impeachment to the Senate.
Probably not enough of them to convict and push Trump out of office. To get the required 67 votes to convict, the 47 Democrats would need 20 of the 53 Republican senators. But maybe enough — let’s say 8 or 10 — to weaken Trump so profoundly that enough Americans, sick of the constant turmoil, sick of the lies and the threats, sick of the constant assault on American democratic principles, agree that it’s time, finally, to put all things Trumpian behind us and begin the long road back toward normalcy.
Let me say straight away that I don’t buy it — and mainly because the notion always begins with the Senate’s most vulnerable Republicans as the first to mutiny. And the most vulnerable of all, of course, is Colorado’s own Cory Gardner.
You’d think, if you didn’t know better, that Gardner, whose toothy ambition is countered by an overwhelming sense of self-preservation, would be an ideal candidate to jump ship. The only question should be whether it’s rats first or Gardner first or a photo finish.
Back in the day, when Trump was just as unhinged but not yet president, when Gardner was calling him a buffoon and worse, Gardner threw him over in a shot after the Access Hollywood tape and demanded Trump drop out of the race. That was then. This is very much now.
In the now, Trump is struggling through the worst and darkest time of his presidency. He’s testing the Trump-could-shoot-anyone-on-5th-Avenue-and-get-away-with-it hypothesis by bringing an AR-15 to the gun fight.
When he’s not accusing Adam Schiff of treason and calling for his arrest and not accusing the whistleblower and informants as being “close to a spy” and threatening to, well, hang him or her, and when he’s not sending Bill Barr around the world to feed the conspiracy theory that the FBI, which Barr oversees, is the true villain in the Russia probe and when he’s not calling two Jewish congressmen and four congressional women of color “savages,” and when he’s not releasing the “perfect” reconstructed transcript of his “perfect” call to Ukraine’s president that perfectly reveals Trump strong-arming a dependent ally for dirt on Joe Biden and when he’s not considering building moats at the border stocked with alligators and snakes and having U.S. soldiers shoot refugees in the legs to slow them down, he’s hunkered down in the White House gleefully watching Rudy on the cable news defend him while showing the world that if anyone on Trump’s team is unhinged, it’s definitely Trump’s main man, the Rudester.
So, what else is happening during this time? I’ll bet you know. Yes, as the world unravels, Gardner is scheduled to be one of the special guests at a New York high-dollar GOP fundraiser this weekend for Trump — who just revealed stunning fundraising numbers — and the Republican National Committee.
Assuming Gardner shows up, what is he going to say when asked to speak? Is he going to suggest crocodiles instead of alligators? Is he going to agree that Ukraine hacked the Dem computers and not the Russians and that Hillary emails are hidden (does Trump think they’re stacked up somewhere?) in some rich Ukrainian’s basement? Is George Soros involved (because isn’t he always involved)? Gardner already, if briefly, tried to defend Trump by saying Nancy Pelosi had given in to the left-wing radicals like, presumably, Michael Bennet and Ed Perlmutter and Diana DeGette and Jason Crow and Joe Neguse, who all favor the impeachment inquiry. Who’s he going after this time — George Will and Mark Sanford? Is he going to praise Putin and Kim? Is he going to volunteer to shoot a refugee himself?
Seriously, what can Gardner say? He has called the whistleblower matter “serious,” but said he still supports Trump. I mean, he’s not going to use his speech to explain the whistleblower law and why protecting the (almost a spy) whistleblower’s identity is so critical. He’s not going to explain that Robert Mueller is not part of the deep state. He’s not going to say that enlisting Australia, the UK, Ukraine and Italy in Trump’s private worldwide conspiracy hunt is not exactly Nobel Peace Prize material. And yet he knows that whatever he says, it will leak and that whatever level of sycophancy Gardner is working on will be revealed to the known world.
If Gardner were actually as slick a politician as he seems, he’d come down with something terrible, like a bad case of measles. As a bonus, he could blame that on Jared Polis. But I assume it’s too late to back out now. He’s there on the program along with Nikki Haley (who definitely does not want to be there) and the estimable Don Trump Jr. What a team.
Barr can’t be there because he’s in Italy on his tour of finding foreign governments to help him pin the 2016 election interference on those in the Justice Department whom Barr has called “spies.” I don’t know how Mike Pompeo can show his face. He finally had to admit — after pretending he had no first-hand knowledge of the Ukraine call — that he was actually on the line during the call. And he has to explain how Congress is trying to bully potential congressional witnesses when it’s Pompeo who’s doing the not-so-perfect intimidating.
Will Rudy be at the dinner? Maybe he can sit next to Gardner. I just want a copy of the group photo so I can use it as my Twitter avatar.
Here’s what we do know. The poll numbers favoring impeachment are on the rise.. Trump’s approval numbers are sinking. The Morning Consult tracking numbers have Trump down 19 points in Colorado. Tying yourself, with photos to match, to a president who is 19 points underwater in your state is nearly as crazy as the Trump/Giuliani/Barr deep state theory.
But as for impeachment, if we get that far? Voting to convict Trump, when 90-some percent of Republicans still approve of the president, would take a bold, call-to-conscience move. I just checked both Gardner’s Senate bio and his Wikipedia entry to be sure, and, surprisingly, bold calls to conscience don’t appear in either. And for Gardner, there’s also this to consider: He might well be doomed however he votes. That’s why I’ll remain skeptical until — assuming there is such a time in our future — the very end.
Mike Littwin is a columnist for the Colorado Independent.
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