If Barack Obama had committed 1% of the unethical acts President Donald Trump has been accused of while serving in the White House, Rep. Liz Cheney would have called for his head on a stick and then paraded it down Pennsylvania Avenue.

But Wyoming’s congresswoman is ferocious in her defense of Trump, declaring that the president did nothing wrong and calling for Democrats who have launched an impeachment inquiry to be investigated instead.

“The Speaker [Nancy Pelosi] and House Democrats have lost all credibility and, most tragically, have abdicated their duty to the Constitution and to the American people,” Cheney charged in a statement. 

That’s rich beyond imagination. We have a president who has already admitted contacting a foreign leader and asking him to dig up dirt on his chief political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Yet Cheney is blaming her own chamber’s leaders for further investigating what happened.

Wyoming’s Sen. Mike Enzi hasn’t weighed in on whether he thinks this vital issue is legitimate, noting simply through a spokesperson that he would be one of the jurors if House articles of impeachment land in the U.S. Senate. That’s an easy way out, though the retiring Enzi has nothing to lose at home if he dared to volunteer whether he thinks an investigation is necessary.

Uncharacteristically, Sen. John Barrasso hasn’t jumped in front of TV cameras to offer his support of Trump. But his office released this evaluation: “Democrats have been working to undermine President Donald Trump since day one. Now they are beating the impeachment drum and cranking up the outrage machine.

Indeed, there is growing outrage over Trump’s now infamous phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky — as there should be.

What we already know about the incident that prompted Rep. Pelosi (D-California) to launch the impeachment inquiry was supplied by the president himself, and it is damning. The official White House memo detailing the call shows that Trump — who a week earlier had frozen $400 million in congressionally approved aid to the Ukraine — leveraged the money as a bargaining chip.

When Zelensky said he wanted to buy U.S. missiles for his fight against Russia, the first words out of Trump’s mouth were, “I would like you to do us a favor though.” He asked the newly elected leader of Ukraine — who is dealing with the invasion of his country by Russia, the one nation Trump never fails to defend — to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter.

Trump then asked Zelensky to contact his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as well as Attorney General William Barr, for help.

Excuse me, but Giuliani often acts like he doesn’t have the skills or composure to fight a traffic ticket, much less represent the State Department, which certainly didn’t ask for his help. And what in the world is the U.S.’s chief law enforcement official doing in the middle of this mess?

Republicans like Cheney are repeating the White House’s talking points, countering that there was no explicit “quid pro quo” linking the foreign aid to Trump’s pushing for a Biden probe.

Has Cheney never watched “Law & Order?” Doesn’t she know that isn’t necessary to spell absolutely everything out to convict an attempted conspiracy?

“OK, Mack, you hide the body and I’ll give you an alibi for 50 grand. It’s called a ‘quid pro quo,’ see?”

It’s the context of Trump’s words that will ultimately lead to his political downfall. And by the end of the first week of the latest scandal to plague the president, there was mounting evidence, first revealed by a whistleblower, that administration officials had engaged in a cover-up to hide their boss’ call to Zelensky.

Except for a handful of Republicans in Congress who said they are “troubled” and “concerned” about Trump’s actions, the GOP side of the aisle has remained mostly silent.

Cheney is the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference and Barrasso is a Senate leader.  Both need to actually lead by performing what the Constitution clearly says is their duty. It’s up to Congress to uphold the rule of law and ensure that any president, regardless of party, is held accountable for alleged treason, bribery and other high crimes or misdemeanors.

Trump and his businesses are currently the subject of 11 congressional investigations, including several relating to obstruction of justice and special counselor Robert Mueller’s probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election to help get Trump elected.

What prompted Pelosi to change her position from adamantly opposing an impeachment inquiry to instituting one was the overwhelming evidence of Trump’s lawlessness. The speaker rightly moved from trying to protect her caucus members who eked out wins in GOP districts during the “Blue Wave” of 2018 to pursuing impeachment. She put those partisan fears aside and did what was right for the country.

 Instead of castigating Pelosi, Cheney and Barrasso could benefit from her example. But they both see the current fight in black-and-white, us-vs.-them terms. If Trump is impeached — which seems inevitable with a House Democratic majority on board for the inquiry — it might eventually help heal a nation reeling from Trump’s nearly 1,000 days of divisiveness.

Cheney charged that House Democrats are intent on overturning the votes of 63 million Americans who elected Trump. Of course, she didn’t mention the nearly 66 million who voted for Hillary Clinton.

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Even before the House begins the investigation in earnest, public sentiment has already started shifting against the president in the Ukrainian scandal’s wake. Polls show support for Trump’s impeachment has already climbed to 55%.

I trust that some of the citizens who are changing their minds about Trump’s fitness for office live in the overwhelmingly red state of Wyoming. Now the local focus is on Cheney, who in the next few months will have to cast a vote on impeachment. Soon it will shift to Senate jurors Barrasso and Enzi.

Trump’s actions since Mueller’s report supposedly “cleared” him of any wrongdoing (the president’s words) have essentially dared Pelosi to impeach him. He reportedly thought it would be good politics by riling up his base for the 2020 election when the Senate acquits him.

Is Trump really daft enough to believe that being the third U.S. president in history to be impeached will be a political positive? I believe he is. It’s a miscalculation that should get him fired next year at the polls, if he’s still around. I think he’ll succumb to the inevitable pressure an embarrassed, scared GOP will put on him to resign before they lose the White House and the Senate.

The last president to do so, even before an impeachment vote was taken, was Richard Nixon. As the Watergate scandal was erupting in March 1973, White House counsel John Dean warned Nixon, “We have a cancer within — close to the presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily. It’s compounding.”

In October 2019, the same condition exists. The time to remove the disease before it spreads and destroys our democracy has arrived. It’s time to act, to display profiles of courage, not cowardice. Cheney, Barrasso and Enzi can still situate themselves on the right side of history, but time is running out.

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

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  1. I believe that it is a forgone conclusion that the House will impeach Trump – I don’t doubt they will have the votes. When the impeachment arrives in the Senate it will be a drama for all times. I can’t imagine that any rational Republican senator looks forward to more of Trump for one year or possible five years. My hunch is that the Republican senators will act collectively and dump him.

  2. That rugged individualism Wyoming touts as a virtue is certainly not obvious. The more insane and entangled our nation’s two-party politics gets the more quiet all these supposed straight talking, speak-their-mind cowpokes become. The lack of comment in response to this article is its own case in point. Suddenly very few seem to have opinions, or is it a lack of rugged, individualistic courage to express them?

    The First Amendment is still the law of that land. What good is it if citizens speak their minds only in their “safe places” among like-minded souls who dare not risk confrontation.

    Cowering amidst one’s little like-mind clubs and cliques and whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears does little to create public dialogue where cases can be made and tested for their veracity.

    It seems the louder our unhinged president shouts, rants and raves the quieter his Wyoming lackeys and opponents, alike, become.

    Wyoming is as remote as any state in the lower 48 can get, but please folks, be aware that as our nation sinks to the depths in a sea of polluted politics, we are going down with it. The least we can do as citizens is to protest the dead weight of two-party corruption that is sinking our ship.

  3. Well said, Mr. Drake. The reluctance of our three delegates to Washington to defend and uphold the Constitution is disappointing and dangerous to our country.

  4. Boy, how the fingers are pointing, why not use your thumbs? Just ask two questions and they are at best simple as your thumbs… What has Cheney done for Wyoming in the last two years, or John Barrasso, for the good of this State? What federal actions have really benefited our Home and not the pocketbooks of the wealthy?
    Face reality, Nothing and you expect these representatives to represent the Constitution by their oaths, when in pure truth neither has done so to date for Wyoming…
    A Shoshoni lady told me it was not proper to point fingers, that is why we use our thumb… I have often wonder why? We all know thumbs up is right, thumbs down your on the ground, or thumbs point a direction of travel? Yet, when you use your thumb to point at person it makes a fist even at yourself… In other words, did you make a fist of no vote or yes vote upon yourself?? Sure were an awful lot of thumbs turned towards onWeself in last election, not for Wyoming in Congressional Representation, now was there…

  5. Now these Republican fiddlers need that Wyoming aircraft carrier more than ever as their Titanic begins to list dangerously starboard.

    Soon, they will jump ship only to land in the gaping jaws of their great white hope and sink to the deep, dark depths with him.

    A dying beast flails about wildly before finally slipping into a quiet stillness, the gleam in its eyes dims, and with one last desperate shudder its life fades into darkness.

  6. Almost everyone I know in Wyoming is honest, upright, and deeply concerned about support of our Constitution and legislative processes. How is it that Wyomingites have three losers representing us in Washington?

  7. Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable….George Orwell.
    Unfortunately, these words are just as true today as they were in George Orwell ‘s day, if not more so. Today we call it spin and it is the bane of anyone trying to convince others of the correctness of their point of view..
    Who is the true patriot, the person wielding the power of the office, or the person protesting a corrupt government?
    In many respects President Trump has shown himself to be absolutely corrupt and the complacency of the GOP exposes their hypocrisy.
    Another quote that I remember from high school was one I must have typed on a typewriter (that’s how old I am) a thousand times: “now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” For our country’s continued existence may our state’s Washington reps show us they are honorable.

  8. WHAT?? Obama committed more unethical and illegal acts than Trump has, if ever, done ! How could you possibly manage to forget even a few of Obama’s famous scandals ? Here’s just a few to refresh your memory: Fast & Furious, IRS targeting Conservatives, the Benghazi cover-up, voter intimation laws, SOLYNDRA, the Pigford scandal with Shirley Sherrod, AP phone recording scandal, ObamaCare no bid scandal, NSA spying on entire world, VA hospital scandal, Bowe Bergdahl scandal. This is just for starters.
    There’s one thing I respect about the Liberals: They NEVER compromise on their principals no matter how bad they are.

    1. Neither is worth a dime. Every president we have had ultimately serves one thing, and one thing only: the interest of the wealthy.

  9. At what cost do you protect your political party over the US Constitution? It’s difficult for me to believe that our legislators are not appalled by the cumulative bad behavior and lawlessness evident in the last three years from Donald Trump. Surely our legislators’ wisdom is being held ransom by the party they serve. What an awful mistake, especially by Cheney, to repeat such disgusting defenses of our realtor-in-chief. I honestly don’t believe our Senators will vote against our constitution. When Trump is impeached I can’t wait to read the rhetorical back track of why Barrasso, and again especially Cheney would defend Trump over the US Constitution.