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 BidenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate 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 VolkerSondland brings impeachment inquiry to White House doorstep Impeachment viewership drops for Day 3 of hearings as 11.4M tune in Five bombshells from explosive Sondland testimony 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 TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE publicly called on Ukraine — and China — to investigate the Bidens.

Three Republican Senators — Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump FDA pick dodges questions on Trump's flavored vape ban Congress feels heat to act on youth vaping Progressive Democrats ramp up attacks on private equity MORE (Utah), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' 2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock MORE (Maine), and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanBudget process quick fixes: Fixing the wrong problem Why Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump 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's facial expression right before lawmakers took break from Sondland testimony goes viral The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Sondland affirms quid pro quo for Ukraine in public testimony Live coverage: Schiff closes with speech highlighting claims of Trump's corruption 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.”

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9) Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act Tensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' 2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation 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 GrahamGraham: Report on alleged surveillance abuse in 2016 to be released Dec. 9 McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack MORE (R-S.C.): Twenty years ago, while serving as a House of Representatives manager in the impeachment of Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonFeehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Press: Ukraine's not the only outrage The 2 events that reshaped the Democratic primary race 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 McCarthySaagar Enjeti expresses concern over MSNBC hosting debate after Weinstein scandal Former Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled Saagar Enjeti blasts alleged Epstein cover-up by media 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 JohnsonSondland testifies quid pro quo in Ukraine was real and widely known Dem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens Former Bush aide defends Vindman, criticizes GOP congressmen for 'defaming' him MORE (R-Wis.): In February, 2016, Sen. Johnson joined Sen. Portman, Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkWhy Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Bottom Line 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 RubioSenate passes legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters Senators voice support for Iran protesters but stop short of taking action McConnell urges Trump to voice support for Hong Kong protesters 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.”

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4) Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanWill Republicans continue to engage in willful blindness? How Democrats can avoid fatal flaws of their impeachment inquiry Live coverage: Schiff closes with speech highlighting claims of Trump's corruption 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 McConnellOvernight Health Care: Fireworks on health care expected at Dem debate | Trump FDA pick dodges on vaping ban | Trump to host meeting on youth vaping Friday | AMA calls for immediate vaping ban GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal 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 PelosiKlobuchar shuts down idea a woman can't beat Trump: 'Pelosi does it every day' Budowsky: Trump destroying GOP in 2018, '19, '20 On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal MORE from impeaching President Trump.”

2) Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiBiden: Impeachment hearings show 'Trump doesn't want me to be the nominee' Sondland brings impeachment inquiry to White House doorstep FBI sought interview with whistleblower at heart of impeachment probe 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.