In criminal law classes, lawyers-to-be learn about something called mens rea–a term that means “criminal intent.” In order to find someone guilty of a crime, it is necessary to prove that they intended to commit that crime. Otherwise, depending upon the facts involved, they may instead be guilty of gross negligence, or found not guilty by reason of incapacity.
If I had to defend Donald Trump against charges of treason, I would argue he lacked the mental capacity to understand what treason is. After all, there’s plenty of evidence that he is seriously deranged and none-too-bright.
Mitch McConnell is another matter entirely.
NPR recently covered a speech by Joe Biden in which our former vice-President explained why the administration did not go public before the election with the information it had about Russian interference.
Former Vice President Joe Biden says he and President Barack Obama decided not to speak out publicly on Russian interference during the 2016 campaign after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to sign a bipartisan statement condemning the Kremlin’s role.
Speaking on Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden said the Obama administration sought a united front to dispel concerns that going public with such accusations would be seen as an effort to undermine the legitimacy of the election.
However, McConnell “wanted no part of having a bipartisan commitment saying, essentially, ‘Russia’s doing this. Stop,’ ” he said.
Essentially, McConnell blackmailed the President. If the administration accused Russia of meddling, he would accuse Obama of manufacturing the allegation in order to gain a partisan advantage.
The former vice president’s account echoes reporting that first appeared in The Washington Post in June describing a meeting that occurred the same month between Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, then-FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco and 12 key members of Congress.
I have previously shared my belief that Mitch McConnell is the most evil man in America, and that was before I knew anything about this particular despicable episode.
Politicians and scholars have various definitions of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” In my opinion, consistently advantaging the interests of your political party over your constitutional responsibilities and the welfare of the country qualifies.
I’m not talking about the various procedural games McConnell has always played; partisans in both parties engage in tactical efforts to advantage their “side” when they can. Refusing to hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee–simply ignoring the Senate’s obligation to “advise and consent”–is another matter entirely. Not only was it a dishonorable breach of duty, McConnell had to know that he was doing long-lasting damage to the legitimacy of both the Senate and the Court–and further polarizing the country. He didn’t care; “winning” was more important.
As outrageous as that was, McConnell’s willingness to put his party’s interest above the security of the country–to ignore an attack by a foreign power on the integrity of the U.S. election, an attack that he knew had occurred and that he has subsequently confirmed that he knew had occurred–is every bit as treasonous as Trump’s slavish subservience to that foreign power.
McConnell–not Trump– is the real leader of today’s Republican Party–a party that, as a recent article in the Nation charged, has been and continues to be shamefully complicit.
Russiagate isn’t just the narrow story of a few corrupt officials. It isn’t even the story of a corrupt president. It’s the story of a corrupt political party, the one currently holding all the levers of power in Washington. After Trump groveled before Putin in Helsinki, many Republicans in Washington proclaimed their solemn concern, just as they did when the president expressed his sympathy for the white supremacists in Charlottesville last year. But all of them are fully aware that they are abetting a criminal conspiracy, and probably more than one.
Congressional Republicans have made it abundantly clear that the delivery of tax cuts and ideologically acceptable Supreme Court Justices to their patrons is far more important to them than protecting the security of the country they are pledged to serve.
Trump is stupid and insane. McConnell is smart and evil. They are both corrupt, self-serving traitors. Congressional Republican know that–and protect them anyway. What does that make them?