The law and order party has become the party of cowardice and complicity

The law and order party has become the party of cowardice and complicity
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The Republican Senate has brought the greatest democracy on Earth to its breaking point. They have voted not to allow any witnesses to appear during the historic Senate impeachment trial of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE. In short order, they are expected to vote for his acquittal. 

As this happens, Republican senators have cemented an ominous and insidious precedent that will allow future presidents to violate the law, flout norms, abuse their power and steal elections without any repercussions. 

The Republican Senate is giving birth to the American dictator.

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This week saw arguments from both Democrats and Republicans. From the Democrats, we saw arguments that bolstered the reasons why the House of Representatives brought the two articles of impeachment against Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. They also did a masterful job of debunking the continued conspiracy theories and outright lies they knew Republicans would use to excuse and try to exonerate a guilty president.

From the Republicans, we saw arguments that ran the gamut and even contradicted each other. Some argued that Trump did nothing wrong; Trump attorney Alan DershowitzAlan Morton DershowitzThe Hill's 12:30 Report: War over the Supreme Court Dershowitz suing CNN for 0 million in defamation suit Bannon and Maxwell cases display DOJ press strategy chutzpah MORE said that if a president does something that he believes is in the public interest – even if it also helps him politically – the action cannot be impeachable.

In other words, yeah, the president abused his power, and yeah, he obstructed justice, but so what? His actions are not impeachable because he believed they’d also help the public interest.    

It is difficult to overstate the damage Republicans are doing to our republic and to the mechanisms that the Founding Fathers put in place as safeguards for exactly this kind of dictatorial behavior.

Republicans are arguing – in Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) own astonishing words – that “just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office. …I will not vote to remove the President because doing so would inflict extraordinary and potentially irreparable damage to our already divided nation."

Republicans seem to think that a president who fancies himself a dictator and who believes he is above the law is better for the country than engaging in the process of removing him.

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Republicans now all seem to believe in the Unitary Executive theory, except they want to also grant him total control of the government, not just the executive. 

That would make Trump a dictator. 

The damage Republicans have done extends tragically to their own party. The hashtag #RIPGOP is trending on social media as many Republicans are saying they no longer have a party. 

There are no more Republicans in the Senate. There are only Trump Cult followers who have allowed an unhinged president to break every norm of civility and laws governing our republic in exchange for protection from the Trump ire of which they are so afraid. 

Even in the face of testimony from John BoltonJohn BoltonJudge appears skeptical of Bolton's defense of publishing book without White House approval Maximum pressure is keeping US troops in Iraq and Syria Woodward book trails Bolton, Mary Trump in first-week sales MORE, who we now hear was told directly by the president to start the pressure campaign against Ukraine much earlier than anyone knew, Republicans have turned the other way and stuck their heads in the sand. 

Voters will wonder how it is that the law and order party became the party of cowardice and complicity. How did they become the party that, through deceit, distraction, deflection and distortion, now allows dictators? 

The vast majority of Americans believe that witnesses should have been heard. It is common sense. It is the only way that a trial can be fair, transparent and just. But that is exactly the Republicans’ problem. They don’t want a fair, transparent and just trial. 

They want and have voted for a sham trial and an egregious cover-up. When the Senate Republicans vote to let Trump off the hook, it will not be real acquittal as Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Will Democrats attempt to pack the Supreme Court again? MORE has stated. It can’t be. The full facts are still not known. 

But that’s just it. Republicans don’t want any additional evidence or facts or damning testimony that further proves just how unlawful, abusive, unfit and impeachable Trump is. 

Sadly, they have said they don’t care what the president did. Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderPelosi urges early voting to counter GOP's high court gambit: 'There has to be a price to pay' Graham: GOP has votes to confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy MORE (R-Tenn.), one of the Republican senators Democrats were hoping would hold the honest line and vote for witnesses, said that Democrats had been successful in making their case that Trump did everything they accused him of doing. But he also argued that Trump’s actions don’t rise to the level of impeachment.

RIP GOP. If abusing presidential power for personal political gain, obstructing Congress to prevent any evidence from coming to light and avoiding any real presidential accountability is not an impeachable offense, then what is?

Republicans in North Carolina, Arizona, Iowa, Maine, Colorado and other states are vulnerable in November 2020. Their votes will haunt them as Democrats continue to seek the truth and remind voters how these Republicans avoided witnesses who had firsthand knowledge of presidential wrongdoing, buried facts, boosted lies, then shrugged and looked the other way.

Donald Trump will also face voters who are sick of his chaos, his lawlessness and his thirst for dictatorial powers. 

It seems clear that Republicans in the Senate have ceded their will and their oversight responsibilities to their dictator-in-chief.  They are unable and unwilling to do their jobs. I have confidence that in November of 2020, Americans will do it for them.

Maria Cardona is a longtime Democratic strategist and co-chair of the Democratic National Committee's rules and bylaws committee for the party's 2020 convention. She is a principal at Dewey Square Group, a Washington-based political consulting agency, and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.