On Friday, Republicans in the United States Senate—with the exception of Mitt Romney and Susan Collins—voted to prevent John Bolton, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, from testifying in the impeachment trial of the president.
The reason they did so is undeniable: They did not want to hear from the most credible fact witness of all, one whose account would further implicate the president in his corrupt scheme—his “drug deal,” in Bolton’s words—to pressure the Ukrainian government to open an investigation to harm Trump’s main political opponent.
Republicans, from beginning to end, sought not to ensure that justice be done or truth be revealed. Instead, they sought to ensure that Trump not be removed from office under any circumstances, defending him at all costs. The job of Senate Republicans was to make their acquittal of the president as quick and painless for them as possible. In this particular case, facts and evidence—reality—were viewed as grave threats, which is why they had to be buried.
This is simply the latest act in an unfolding political drama, one in which the party of Lincoln and Reagan has now become, in every meaningful sense, the party of Trump.
I have written before about the massive moral and ethical defects of the president; there’s no need to rehearse them here. The point I want to make is a somewhat different one, which is that Trump’s takeover of the GOP has happened not because he is widely loved or admired by Republican lawmakers but because he is feared; not because most of the people in the Republican Senate Conference aspire to be like him, but because they are too timid to challenge him.