For senators defending Trump, retaliation tops ethics

A chronicle of Donald Trump's Crimes or Allegations

For senators defending Trump, retaliation tops ethics

Eight Republican senators enraged about the unanimous guilty verdicts on 34 felony criminal counts against former President Donald Trump signed a petition vowing to take no action on any political and judicial appointments made by Joe Biden, the duly elected president of the United States of America.  

To underscore the level of retaliation they would exact, the outraged senators also promised not to expedite consideration of any Democratic legislation not directly related to public safety. 

For the record: The jury in the aforementioned case was screened by the opposing attorneys per New York state law. All 12 jurors — and the six alternates — were average citizens representing a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Any prospective juror who showed evidence of relevant bias, who might have been inclined to decide the case before hearing and considering the evidence, was excused. 

The fact is there was nothing unusual about the process of jury selection, the discipline of the court or the behavior of the lawyers, witnesses, the defendant or observers — all were carefully monitored and managed by a highly capable and well-respected judge. 

Still, the petition signed by eight senators securely in the vanguard of the MAGA contingent of the Republican party says, “The White House has made a mockery of the rule of law and fundamentally altered our politics in un-American ways.” Really? 

Besides the factual errors, (the White House had no role whatsoever in the filing of the charges or the prosecution of the case), the flagrant legal misrepresentations on display were truly breathtaking.  

Incredibly enough, five of the eight co-signers are trainedexperienced lawyers, all graduates of reputable law schools. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the declared convener of the group, actually clerked for a Supreme Court justice! Would they actually be comfortable defending their statement to a panel of former law professors? That’s hard to imagine. 

I’m a physician, but any layperson who has been paying attention knows that the charges against the former president were brought by the duly elected Manhattan district attorney for violation of New York laws — not directed or influenced in any way by President Biden. 

In fact, there is a physician senator among the eight signers of Lee’s statement. That would be Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), who has supported anti-vax legislation and denied the results of the 2020 election. One of the other non-lawyers, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) gained notoriety for withholding senate approval for more than 400 critical military promotions based on his opposition to U.S. military policies regarding abortion.  

Lest you be tempted to consider these senators to be rogue political outliers, the data suggests something very different. Approximately one-third of current senators and representatives refused to accept the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. At least two Supreme Court justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, have spouses who either have shared or appear to share the sentiments of those federal elected officials. 

Beyond that, it is estimated that tens of millions of Americans align themselves with the MAGA wing of the Republican party, which bonded around the belief that that the election “was stolen” from Trump, along with other conspiracy theories promoted by the former president. 

I’m not in a position to understand the psychology of the MAGA loyalists.  

But I do have this question: When people like the senators who signed the petition — more than half of whom are lawyers, all educated, all taking the same constitutional oath — get up in the morning and look in the mirror, what do they see?   

How do they justify their public identities as full-fledged Trump acolytes, fully bought into the dangerous ideas Trump lays out as the priorities for his next term? The non-stop misinformation, his misunderstanding of international geopolitics and his love affairs with despots? His absurd statements and behaviors toward migrants and people with handicaps, his outrageously irresponsible handling of highly classified documents? His denial of the Jan 6 insurrection? His flagrant misogyny

And now, their fearless leader is a convicted felon. 

So, for the lawyers among the senators, do you expect Americans who entrust you to keep the nation secure and economically thriving to be reassured by the positions you have now adopted? Do you want the American people to believe your absurd position that Trump’s trial was somehow controlled by Biden and a jury of peers from Trump’s community was somehow rigged?

So, again, what exactly do these senators see when they look in the morning mirror as they’re preparing to deal with the challenges that confront America — and the planet? That’s the question all Trump-supporting leaders need to address as the country considers reelecting a convicted felon who promises to be the most profound threat to America’s democracy since the Civil War.

Irwin Redlener, MD, is an adjunct senior research scholar at the School of International & Public Affairs at Columbia University.