History shows us that you can have a nation of laws or scofflaws, but you can't have both.
I had that thought watching Senator Lindsey Graham lose whatever remained of his dignity on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday Morning. Recall that he once prophesied that “If we nominate Donald Trump we will get destroyed and we will deserve it.”
If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed.......and we will deserve it.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 3, 2016
How times change. Now he was trying to tell the country that the law should not apply to the former president because, in his opinion, it was now being applied unequally.
Instead of answering a simple question about Trump's illegal hoarding of the nation's most sensitive secrets in the toilets, closets, and ballrooms of his Florida golf club, Graham immediately attacked Hillary Clinton.
“I'm trying to answer the question from a Republican point of view,” Graham continued. “That may not be acceptable on this show.”
“Most Republicans believe we live in a country where Hillary Clinton did similar things and nothing happened to her. Pres. Trump will have his day in court, but espionage charges are absolutely ridiculous,” GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham tells @GStephanopoulos. https://t.co/TAi6FOqGGJ pic.twitter.com/l0ld91Wxw6— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 11, 2023
But answering questions from a Republican or Democratic point of view shouldn't be acceptable anywhere. Reality, the truth, and the law shouldn't change because they suddenly undermine your party and politics.
There is the level at which partisan bickering and score-settling become dangerous, getting in the way of the nation's business, and Graham personified it on "This Week."
Instead of answering questions about the seriousness of Trump's indictment, including the implications of having our most critical secrets dumped in unsecured basements next to high-volume photocopiers, or the shock of hearing Trump resisted all attempts to return these missing documents to the government, and the surprise of learning that he illegally transported multiple boxes of them to his Bedminster, New Jersey resort after denying they were in his possession, was indefensible.
Continuing his 'don't look at Trump, look at Democrats' distractions, Graham added, “Most Republicans believe we live in a country where Hillary Clinton did very similar things and nothing happened to her.”
This is a flat lie. Clinton was irresponsible for discussing classified topics via email on a private server, but after three years of investigation, there was no evidence to charge her with a crime.
She wasn't right to do what she did but unlike Trump, she did not defy a subpoena, abscond and hold onto critical US nuclear defense documents, she did not have a credulous attorney sign a declaration claiming the documents were Trump's, nor was she charged with holding any defense documents.
I have lost patience with the 'what-about-about-our-opponents' defense strategy when it comes to defending the indefensible. But then Graham went on to say that Trump did not disseminate any of this information.
We know that's another lie. There's an audiotape in the indictment charging papers where Trump is openly talking about all the secret information he has, saying he knows that it's secret, he knows that it's not declassified, he knows that he's sharing it. So in fact he did disseminate this secret information and the consequences for our national security and our secret service are potentially catastrophic.
Graham didn't care. “I’ve heard your attack on Hillary Clinton. I’ve heard your attack on Bill Clinton,” Stephanopoulos continued, sounding exasperated. “What I’ve not heard from you is the defense of Donald Trump’s behavior and why you think that’s the kind of behavior you want to see in a president of the United States.”
Graham replied: “I’m not justifying his behavior. If it were up to me, nobody would take classified information in their garage or Mar-a-Lago.”
Meanwhile, proving that the press has learned nothing about the dangers of equating laws and scofflaws, Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, in an accidental summation of our age and her own contributions, tweeted: “Two things can be true at once: the indictment paints a damning portrait, and the majority of Republicans aren’t interested in it and view it as illegitimate.”
Two things can be true at once: the indictment paints a damning portrait, and the majority of Republicans aren’t interested in it and view it as illegitimate https://t.co/txmSaHiZvK— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 11, 2023
Two things cannot be true at once, however. What the law says cannot be dependent on how you feel about it. One of the great tragedies of our age is that so many of us seem to have ingested the cynical idea that political necessity and public opinion are the only true barometers of what laws are written and will prevail.
It's because so many people have been encouraged to believe in this dual reality - courtesy of our leadership and the all too willing press - that the country is in the trouble it's in.