DEAR CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS,
Enough is enough. The time has come — indeed it’s long overdue — to stop enabling Donald Trump.
For two-and-a-half years you’ve looked the other way at his corruption, lawbreaking, norm shredding, and manifest unfitness.
You have flip-flopped on everything from free trade and congressional oversight to foreign policy and the deficit. You’ve engaged in blatant political hypocrisies. You’ve remained silent as the president undermines America’s standing in the world and our democracy here at home.
I can’t defend it, but I understand it. You like tax cuts, putting conservative judges on the federal judiciary, and ticking off liberals. And you know that turning on the president means alienating his supporters and likely losing re-election.
But at some point you need to put America ahead of your ambitions.
On Thursday, the president stood on the White House lawn and solicited the assistance of the Ukrainian and Chinese governments in going after his political rivals. You know this is not only wildly inappropriate, but would undermine our very system of government. If Barack Obama had said something like that, you would have moved to impeach him right away (and a lot of Democrats would have been cheering you on).
Surely, the president enlisting foreign governments — and not just any foreign governments, but political rivals of the United States — to help him win re-election is a bridge too far.
Virtually all of you signed on to legislation that imposed sanctions on Russia for its 2016 election interference. We found out last week that the president told the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador to the United States — in the Oval Office — that he knows Moscow interfered in the 2016 election and he has no problem with it.
You can’t be OK with this.
Some of you tried to defend the president on the Ukraine/whistle-blower story, saying you needed more facts. Now, with the whistle-blower complaint, the summary of the call between Trump and the Ukrainian president, and Trump’s own words, we know that he tried to use the power of the presidency to coerce foreign governments into helping his re-election efforts.
Many of you dubiously claimed there was no clear quid pro quo between Trump and the Ukrainian president. With the release Thursday of text messages between State Department officials showing the Trump administration dangled a White House visit to the Ukrainian president in return for a commitment to investigating Biden and a conspiracy theory about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election, it’s no longer a question. The jig is up.
The president is now saying that he has an “absolute right” to “investigate. . . Corruption” and that “would include asking, or suggesting, other Countries to help us out.” Are you really willing to create a precedent whereby the president can ask other countries to investigate his political rivals and brazenly interfere in a US election?
If you’ll defend something this egregious, undemocratic, and unpatriotic, it begs the question: Is there anything you won’t defend? Will you ever draw a line in the sand against the president’s lawless behavior?
I understand the political risks, but what’s the worst that happens: You won’t get to be senators and representatives anymore? None of you are going to starve. You’ll all find jobs.
Your old colleague Jeff Flake said last week that if there was a secret vote “at least 35” GOP senators would vote to convict the president and have him removed from office. But you won’t do it publicly because of the fear of being “primaried” by a pro-Trump Republican.
But do you really want to hold your office with the support of people so clearly besotted with the president that they no longer have the ability to understand the difference between right and wrong? Is this why you entered public service?
Is your job really worth trashing the Constitution that you swore to defend and support when you took your oath of office? Many of you speak of your religious faith, so take the words of Matthew 16:26 to heart, “what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”
Let’s face it: For the past two-and-a-half years, you’ve forfeited your soul to Donald Trump. It’s pathetic and indefensible, but it’s never too late to do the right and honorable thing.
You know Trump is a threat to the country. You understand that his actions are wrong and dangerous. By calling on him to resign or indicating your support for conviction in the Senate, you have the power to end this national nightmare. Without you, it won’t happen and Trump will remain in office for who knows who long.
So do it. Save your souls and save America’s.
Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.