Budowsky: Would John McCain back impeachment?

The late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was one of the greatest senators in modern American history, one of the most passionate patriots who ever served in the military or government, one of the leading champions of democracy and opponents of dictatorships for half a century and the gold standard for integrity, straight talk and honorable bipartisanship in public life.

In a bitterly divided nation, with the impeachment debate intensifying throughout Congress and across the nation, and with American democracy now under fierce attack from a dictator in Russia who McCain battled for a generation, it is worth considering what McCain might say if he were here for our impeachment debate today.

Cindy McCain, who was his devoted wife and partner in life and public service, has said recently that she believes that John McCain would be disgusted by what is happening in politics and the Republican Party today “is not the party that my husband and I belonged to.” She spoke warmly about the long friendship and great respect that she and hew husband felt for former Vice President Joe Biden.

I offer no opinion about what John McCain would say, or how he would vote, on the yes or no question about articles of impeachment against President Trump. But there are many things I am confident he would undoubtedly say — and do —  about critical issues that are central to the impeachment debate.

McCain would be appalled and angry about the massive Swift Boat-style attack against Biden, spearheaded by Trump and aided by Attorney General William Barr. He would defend Biden against this attack as a core principle of patriotism, integrity and honor.

In a recent and excellent op-ed in Roll Call by Patricia Murphy, which addresses similar issues to those I address here, she notes the long-term leadership commitment of McCain to democracy and freedom in Ukraine. She correctly suggests that McCain would be aggressively defending Ukraine from the attacks from Russia that have led to the death of tens of thousands of Ukrainians.

McCain would have wholeheartedly agreed with the recent impeachment testimony of Fiona Hill, a highly respected former senior National Security Council aide who testified, similar to a major briefing recently offered to the Senate from American intelligence services, that the allegation that Ukraine interfered in our 2016 election is false and parrots propaganda that originated from Russia.

McCain would be outraged that prominent Republicans, including Trump and some senators, parrot the propaganda that Ukraine attacked our election that originated with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who continues to attack Ukrainian and American democracy, while his propaganda is repeated by those who should defend Ukraine and America against these attacks, not repeat them.

McCain would be outraged that while Russia continued to attack Ukraine, Trump, over the objection of many senior advisers, withheld American military assistance to Ukraine at any time, for any purpose.

McCain would vehemently object to Trump publicly asking dictators in Russia and China to interfere to help him in the 2020 election, and pressuring our democratic ally in Ukraine to do the same.

While McCain would object to any wrongs committed by anyone at the FBI, he would strongly object to systematic attacks against the FBI and CIA, the overwhelming majority of whose employees courageously and patriotically defend America against attacks from Russia, terrorists and others. They deserve applause, not attacks, from Trump and Barr.

America profoundly misses John McCain. Republicans profoundly miss McCain, and would profit by understanding why. The Senate profoundly misses McCain. Friends of freedom and democracy in every corner of the world profoundly miss McCain. Believers in truth, integrity and straight talk in politics profoundly miss McCain.

With American democracy under fierce attack, a Republican president who praises foreign dictators, and a historic constitutional crisis at hand — which Republican will put patriotism above politics as McCain did for a lifetime?

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.

Tags Articles of impeachment Donald Trump Joe Biden John McCain Trump impeachment Vladimir Putin William Barr

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