Give Mac Thornberry this much: Unlike some of his Republican colleagues, he was at least trying.
On Sunday the Texas Republican appeared on ABC’s This Week, where he tentatively offered a message on the impeachment inquiry, which enters its public phase with hearings this Wednesday and Friday. Thornberry sought a middle course.
“I believe that it is inappropriate for a president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival,” he said. “I believe it was inappropriate. I do not believe it was impeachable.”
Debatable, but coherent. But from there, things went off the rails. First, Thornberry inadvertently compared President Donald Trump to a rapist or murderer while critiquing the procedure House Democrats have used (though perhaps he is not far off). He then offered the defense that Trump couldn’t be impeached because the abuse of power in the Ukraine scandal is his standard operating procedure. “There’s not anything that the president said in that phone call that’s different than he says in public all the time,” he said.
Thornberry’s performance may have been stumbling, but he was still more persuasive than Senator Lindsey Graham. In September, the South Carolinian said, “If you’re looking for a circumstance where the president of the United States was threatening the Ukraine with cutting off aid unless they investigated his political opponent, you’d be very disappointed. That does not exist.” As testimony leaked out that showed there was, in fact, a quid pro quo, Graham demanded full transcripts. And when it became clear that they backed the quid pro quo, he announced that he would not read the transcripts and said he had “written the whole process off.”