In a world in which lawmakers honored their oaths, Republicans would have voted to impeach President Donald Trump for his conduct detailed in the Mueller report or for attempting to extort Ukraine to help his reelection. They would have forced him to resign or induced him not to run in 2020. In the real world, Republicans — in rationalizing his unacceptable behavior before the election and supporting his efforts to overturn the election results based on no evidence afterward — remind us they have irrevocably forfeited their moral authority to lead. (Yes, I laughed putting “Republicans” and “moral” in the same sentence.)
The “Dirty Dozen” or the “Sedition Caucus,” as the senators who declared their plan to challenge the electoral college votes have been tagged on social media, has been attempting an anti-democratic putsch. Remember the names of the Republican senators who seek to violate the results of an election and install their preferred candidate: Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Cynthia M. Lummis of Wyoming, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Steve Daines of Montana, John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana and Roger Marshall of Kansas. It may become a baker’s dozen with Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) telling Fox News on Sunday, “I’ve said from the start, everything is on the table here, and I’m seriously looking at that.”
It makes no difference if they pledge as Hawley did to challenge the results or, as the rest of the Sedition Caucus, challenge the results unless Congress gives way to their demand to set up a commission to investigate (nonexistent) fraud. The votes have been certified, the electoral votes cast and a new president has been elected.
There is no basis for overturning the presidential results in an election in which, mind you, a third of the Senate (including many of the Dirty Dozen) and every House member were elected or reelected. The argument to justify such seditious activity — that there are lots of “complaints” or “people don’t believe the results” — is circular and ludicrous. People may believe something crazy because Republicans raised entirely crazy and baseless allegations of fraud. In about 60 cases brought to contest the election, not one produced evidence of fraud. In many instances, Trump’s lawyers did not bother to raise the allegation of fraud since they could not point to any.
In any event, it makes a mockery of our legal system to think that four of the Dirty Dozen — Cruz, Kennedy, Hawley and Blackburn — sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee. These four have shown themselves to be incapable of fairly deciding whether to confirm judicial nominees or considering legislation to protect the integrity of the courts and the rule of law.
The Dirty Dozen and reportedly 140 or so House members who also plan to challenge the results are attempting to obtain the same results Trump did by threatening Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a phone call on Saturday. These spurious challenges to an election should remind us that the GOP has become an authoritarian, unprincipled party whose only purpose is to retain power by whatever means possible. It should permanently disqualify these Republicans from holding office.
Those who are lawyers — such as Cruz and Hawley, who both clerked for Supreme Court chief justices — should know better. Their actions should result in serious professional sanctions up to and including disbarment. Section 8.04 of Texas bar’s ethics rules says a lawyer shall not “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.” Deceiving the public about the outcome of an election and attempting to overthrow the duly elected president surely would qualify. Likewise, in Missouri, the ethics rules state, “A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.” That perfectly describes the utterly unmeritorious challenge to the electoral college.
In casting their ballots in the Senate runoff, Georgia voters should take care not to elect any more Republican senators whose victories would protect their majority. They have shown themselves as unfit to hold office as Trump. While we cannot remove them until they come up for reelection, Georgia voters can deprive them of the majority and control of the committees.
Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion for The Washington Post.