10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable

The validity of allegations that President Donald Trump pressured a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political rival is not — or should not be — in doubt. In July, Trump delayed a military aid package for Ukraine that had been approved by Congress. A few days later, he called President Volodymyr Zelensky. After Zelensky asked about the delivery of Javelin missiles to Ukraine, Trump asked for “a favor” —  an investigation of alleged corruption by Joe BidenJoe Biden2020 Democratic Party platform endorses Trump's NASA moon program Don't let Trump distract us from the real threat of his presidency Abrams: Trump 'doing his best to undermine our confidence' in voting system MORE, the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, and his son, Hunter Biden. Documents released in conjunction with testimony by Special Envoy Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerGOP senators request details on Hunter Biden's travel for probe Yovanovitch retires from State Department: reports Live coverage: Senators enter second day of questions in impeachment trial MORE reveal that U.S. officials prepared a draft text of an announcement of the investigation for Zelensky’s signature. In a recent exchange with reporters on the White House lawn, President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE publicly called on Ukraine — and China — to investigate the Bidens.

Three Republican Senators — Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyStimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility CNN chyron says 'nah' to Trump claim about Russia Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock MORE (Utah), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal Shaheen, Chabot call for action on new round of PPP loans MORE (Maine), and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier Pompeo, lawmakers tangle over Germany troop withdrawal Senate report says Russian oligarchs evading U.S. sanctions through big-ticket art purchases MORE (Ohio) — have criticized Trump’s actions, but have stopped short of suggesting remedies. The rest of the Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate represent a collective profile of (dis)courage. Here is a countdown of statements by ten top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable:

10) Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesNunes declines to answer if he received information from Ukraine lawmaker meant to damage Biden White House, Congress talk next coronavirus relief bill as COVID-19 continues to surge Tucker Carlson: 'Matt Drudge is now firmly a man of the progressive left' MORE (R-Calif.): CNN asked 80 Republican officeholders if they had any concerns about Trump’s call for Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens. Only a handful responded at all. A spokesman for Congressman Nunes declared: “Until CNN retracts the dozens of false stories it ran insinuating that Trump and his associates are Russian agents, it should refrain from reporting on Trump’s interactions with any foreign country.”


9) Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP The Hill's Campaign Report: Who will Biden pick to be his running mate? Chamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelection MORE (R-Iowa): At a town hall in Templeton, Amy Haskins, who identified herself as an independent, asked Ernst whether “it’s OK for our president to extort other countries.” Ernst replied: “We can’t determine that yet ... So not jumping to any conclusions … I can say ‘yay, nay, whatever.’ The president is going to say what the president is going to do.” This week, Ernst refused to answer a reporter’s question about whether it is wrong for a president to ask a foreign leader to meddle in American politics.

8) Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamNavarro: 'Don't fall for' message from TikTok lobbyists, 'puppet CEO' Graham defends Trump on TikTok, backs Microsoft purchase The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - At loggerheads, Congress, White House to let jobless payout lapse MORE (R-S.C.): Twenty years ago, while serving as a House of Representatives manager in the impeachment of Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson Clinton2020 Democratic Party platform endorses Trump's NASA moon program Davis: My recommendation for vice president on Biden ticket Pelosi: Trump trying 'to suppress the vote' with attacks on mail-in ballots MORE, Graham said: “He doesn’t have to say ‘Go lie for me.’ He doesn’t have to say ‘Let’s obstruct justice’ for it to be a crime. You judge people on their conduct, not magic phrases.” This time around, Graham declared a quid pro quo would be “if President Trump said ‘Uh, hey pal, you know, you need to like, go after the Bidens or I ain’t gonna give you any money. Be really, like, thuggish about it.” According to Graham, the transcript of Trump’s telephone call with Zelensky “speaks for itself — no quid pro quo … a nothing burger.”

7) Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDon't let Trump distract us from the real threat of his presidency Overnight Health Care: Five takeaways from Fauci's testimony | CDC: Children might play 'important role' in spreading COVID-19 | GOP leader wants rapid testing at Capitol GOP leader wants to make rapid testing available at Capitol MORE (R-Calif.): During a 60 Minutes interview, Scott Pelley asked Congressman McCarthy what he thought of Trump’s reply to Zelensky’s request for missiles — “I would like you to do us a favor though.” McCarthy claimed, “You just added another word [i.e. though]. “No,” said Pelley. “It’s in the transcript.”

6) Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSunday shows preview: White House, Democratic leaders struggle for deal on coronavirus bill Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal Wisconsin Republicans raise questions about death of Black Trump supporter MORE (R-Wis.): In February, 2016, Sen. Johnson joined Sen. Portman, Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkLiberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP On the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Biden campaign releases video to explain 'what really happened in Ukraine' MORE (R-Ill.), and several Democratic senators, in a letter calling on Ukraine’s president “to press ahead with urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General’s Office and Judiciary,” and, in essence, supporting Vice President Biden’s demand for the ouster of Ukrainian Prosecutor Viktor Shokin. In 2019, Sen. Johnson asked Trump about reports of a quid pro quo with Zelensky. More recently, Johnson insists that, “unlike the narrative that President Trump wants to dig up dirt on his 2020 opponent,” he is only interested in “an accounting of what happened in 2016.”

5) Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPompeo: Trump taking action on Chinese software firms 'in coming days' Bass: 'Lesson learned' on 2016 Castro comments Trump campaign targets Bass amid speculation over Biden VP pick MORE (R-Fla.): Asked by reporters about Trump’s request that China open a probe investigating corruption by the Bidens, Rubio opined that it was not “a real request.”


4) Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanThe 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence Tucker Carlson calls Fauci a 'fraud' after tense hearing Overnight Health Care: Five takeaways from Fauci's testimony | CDC: Children might play 'important role' in spreading COVID-19 | GOP leader wants rapid testing at Capitol MORE (R-Ohio): Following the closed-door testimony of Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Jordan maintained that “not one thing he has said comports with any of the Democrats’ impeachment narrative.  Not one thing.” Jordan endorsed Rubio’s characterization of Trump’s request to China.

3) Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP scrambles to fend off Kobach in Kansas primary Meadows: Election will be held on November third Don't let Trump distract us from the real threat of his presidency MORE (R-Ky.): Acknowledging that if the House voted to impeach the president, he would “have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell added, “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter.” While his colleagues tell reporters and constituents that as potential jurors they must await the evidence that will be presented to them, McConnell’s campaign released an ad, which says: “The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority with me as majority leader … Your conservative Senate Majority is the ONLY thing stopping Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP lawmaker: Democratic Party 'used to be more moderate' White House not optimistic on near-term stimulus deal Sunday shows - Stimulus debate dominates MORE from impeaching President Trump.”

2) Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiNunes declines to answer if he received information from Ukraine lawmaker meant to damage Biden Democratic attorneys criticize House Judiciary Democrats' questioning of Barr Swalwell: Barr has taken Michael Cohen's job as Trump's fixer MORE (Trump’s personal lawyer): “Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Giuliani. “No, actually I didn’t,” Giuliani replied. Moments later, Cuomo asked again. “Of course I did,” said Giuliani. In late September, Giuliani, who to date has uncovered no new information about Joe Biden or Hunter Biden, opined that he was the real whistleblower: “When this is over, I will be the hero.” Indictments last week of two of Giuliani’s Ukraine caper cronies ensure that we soon will hear more about — if not from — President Trump’s fixer.

1) President Trump: “I’m only interested in corruption,” he told reporters in late September. “I don’t care about politics. I don’t care about Biden’s politics … We’re not investigating campaigns. I don’t care about his campaign.”

When, one wonders, will Republicans acknowledge, along with Mitt Romney, that “when the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s [or Ukraine’s] investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated.”

When will Republicans stop denying the undeniable?

Glenn C. Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He is the co-author (with Stuart Blumin) of Rude Republic:  Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century.