The latest Republican "defense" of Donald Trump is now "He can't be impeached because bribery and extortion require intent" and I'm too busy laughing to care.
Confronted with a mountain of damaging facts heading into tomorrow's opening of the public phase of impeachment, House Republicans plan to argue that "the President's state of mind" was exculpatory.
The state of play: "To appropriately understand the events in question — and most importantly, assess the President's state of mind during his interaction with [Ukrainian] President Zelensky — context is necessary," says the 18-page staff memo, circulated to committee members last night.
"The evidence gathered does not establish an impeachable offense," the memo concludes.
Why it matters: By focusing their defense on intangibles like impeachability and President Trump's mindset, House Republicans don't depend on undercutting a narrative that has been bolstered by witness after witness.
Republican senators, who would vote on whether to remove President Trump if the House impeached him, are also thinking this way.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told the WashPost 10 days ago: "To me, it all turns on intent, motive. ... Did the president have a culpable state of mind?"
The memo points to "four key pieces of evidence" to try to undermine Democrats' arguments for why the president should be impeached:
"The July 25 call summary — the best evidence of the conversation — shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure."
"President Zelensky and President Trump have both said there was no pressure on the call."
"The Ukrainian government was not aware of a hold on U.S. security assistance at the time of the July 25 call."
"President Trump met with President Zelensky and U.S. security assistance flowed to Ukraine in September 2019 — both of which occurred without Ukraine investigating President Trump's political rivals."
Between the lines: The memo fails to consider counterarguments that Democratic members have been making for weeks.
And that's the idea. Republicans are simply going to gaslight this and pretend that Trump's already been exonerated by the evidence, and that Democrats are wasting America's time with a partisan witch hunt.
Sadly, it's the 52 Republican senators who can simply cite that and acquit Trump or even dismiss the charges outright, regardless of evidence. They only need 34 to acquit, and any Republican senator who does cross Trump will certainly be removed from committees, face credible death threats from crazed Trump voters, be brutally attacked by Trump for months on Twitter, risk their career via immediate primary challenger, or all of the above.
No Republican will do it. Not a one. They're all cowards.