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What the Devil won't tell you

McSally & Sinema's Trump impeachment votes will tell about their own 'corruption'

So this week may be "Law and Order: U.S. Senate" regarding the impeachment of President Donald Trump, and Arizona is the one state where heaven only knows which way our U.S. senators will break.

I'm going to come at this a different way a bit further down, but first some housekeeping.

Did Trump hold up military aid to the Ukraine pending a public announcement of an "investigation" of potential political opponent Joe Biden? That's the question. I'm just not sure the Senate — or Arizona's senators in particular — care about the answer.

Finding of fact appears to be the last thing on the minds of many senators. The gauging of political winds seems their charge. Otherwise, Trump's confession, his lawyer's confession and his chief of staff's confession would be worth probing. Maybe it's just me.

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally faces a tough row in the general election against astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Kelly is raising money like a Kardashian says "whateva" and is leading in many early polls. Before McSally gets to that fight she must prove her Trumpista bona fides or face a primary challenge.

U.S. Kyrsten Sinema is a changling. When she was representing a bunch of True Progressives in a tightly drawn Tempe district, she was a radical Green. She became a moderate "Blue Dog" when she moved up to a purple congressional district. She seems to seek opportunities now to poke the liberal base she once roused.

Technically, that's great. Senators are supposed to do impartial justice per their oath they sign prior to sitting in judgment of an impeachment case.

If, however, they are willing to turn a blind eye to or give tacit approval to using the public trust for personal gain, that says to the world "the whole system is corrupt."

The first test will come early, when both vote on whether to hear from witnesses in the trial. Who the Christ ever heard of a trial without witnesses?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he has all 45 Democrats on board, and that would include Sinema. She hasn't made any statements publicly.

Concluding with impartial justice that Trump didn't do it is fine, but it requires hearing the case against him and airing the evidence.

A vote to shut down questioning witnesses says "I don't care if he did it or not." And by the law of transitive properties, it means neither McSally nor Sinema care if Trump is corrupt, if that's how they vote. Therefore, we can conclude corruption isn't a big deal to either. So I guess it would just be the new normal that the whole system isn't just corrupt but allowed to be corrupt.

I hate to break it to our senators, but they are part of that system.

How that will work for them, I will get to in a sec. First, let's start with the idea that the whole system is corrupt.

Case studies against corruption

If corruption is now going to get a pass, then that's a new development of the Trump Era.

I don't remember elected leaders saying no worries to former U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ, er FCI Morgantown). He was sentenced to three years in prison for using his influence to arrange a land swap that put money in his pocket. As soon as he tried to explain himself to House Republican leadership, he was stripped of all his committee assignments. Lacking any support for the his re-election, he wandered off the stage in 2007 so U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick 1.0 could take a seat (Kirkpatrick 2.0 represents much of Tucson).

I don't remember people saying Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos' office shouldn't face a federal investigation because he was a Democrat just like Barack Obama.

While Gov. Evan Mecham may have claimed "fake news" at the time had the term been invented, Republicans still voted in 1988 to impeach and remove him for using campaign money to finance his car dealerships. Even though it meant Democrat Rose Mofford became governor.

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Sometimes people in the system are corrupt and our faith in our system requires that public servants act to uphold the public trust despite partisan inconvenience.

Trump doesn't see it that way. He tweeted as much when his Justice Department brought charges against Republicans Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter.

Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff......

It's not that they were guilty or not guilty. It's that they were Republicans. Trump made it plain that the Justice Department should have thought about his party over the law.

It should also be noted that one of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's first acts was to drop a Bush-era investigation of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. Obama also sought and received the resignation of IRS commissioner Lois Lerner over the appearance of impropriety involving investigations into conservative tax-exempt advocacy groups.

"They're all corrupt" is the excuse the Cool Kids use to absolving themselves of civic responsibility. Why take the time to be an informed voter if everyone is on the take? Right.

That appears to be Trump's goal: To convince us that public office is there for private gain, so leave his tax returns alone.

On the other hand, he's got something there for those of us who care about corruption. He's got the arm of the state to make charges stick.

I fear this is a bit esoteric for the senators: So let's try it like this.

(I'm going to pull the following punch a little by warning that what you are about to read in the next two subheads are absolute bullshit but with a kernel of truth. The sarcasm should be obvious, but I physically can't lie like this in print without warning. See if it sounds familiar.)

President Morlock halts air strikes

This just in from the future: "The New York Times is reporting today that President Morlock has ceased air strikes against what he has called 'Taliban soaked hamlets' in the native region of the new Afghan president, who personally beseeched the president to stop …"

"And in other news from Kabul, the Afghan government has opened investigations into Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally. Authorities there are probing Sinema's links to the 9/11 attacks and McSally's ties to the opium trade."

"The president addressed reporters today on the South Lawn as Marine One prepared to take him to his Presidential Island in the Caribbean, ToBlakeO."

The announcement comes as control of the U.S. senate continues to pivot on the senators from his home state of Arizona."

"It starts with McSally and everyone knows she's' crooked. She was appointed to the U.S. Senate and people are saying that deal was dirty."

"People are also telling me that she used her A-10 fighter jet to support the drug cartels in Afghanistan by taking out the government that banned the opium trade. Thousands of Arizonans are dying from opium overdoses. I think the people of Arizona need to know how much McSally profited from being an aerial hit woman for the drug trade."

"If the Afghan government isn't going to go after the drug trade, then I have every right to take military action to stop it."

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"What? You want proof? She's under investigation in Afghanistan. Ask them."

Taliban Krysten and her Traitorous Tutu

President Morlock then turned to Sinema, whom he called a "Democrat in Name Only."

"Sinema says she's a Democrat but she's always there when we don't need her. She's gotta go."

"Luckily, the Afghan president did a great thing. He was good enough to open an investigation into her, too. Taliban Kyrsten made the most disgusting comments of any senator in history when she said Americans should fight in the Afghan radicals to fight U.S. troops. She said it right after 9/11. She said she supported the terrorists. Hey, the people of Arizona have a right to know if Taliban Kyrsten and her Treasonous Tutu had anything to do with 9/11."

"Show me all the 901-word fact checks that you want saying that's not the case. She's a traitor. I know it and you know it. I can make the charge in three words. Let her provide page after page to defend herself."

"McSally and Sinema will rant and rave that none of this is true. As you are aware, these women are nasty."

"Let them defend themselves in page after page of fact. I have three-word tweets. 'They're both corrupt.' I know it. And you know it, too better than anybody."

"The whole system is corrupt and I'm here to fix it."

"I'm just following in the footsteps of Donald John Trump, whom I mercilessly mocked out of office because he's a stone-cold loser. He set the precedent. I'm just following it."

"And McSally and Sinema voted to allow it. Now they are crying like the emotional hypocrites that they are. They made a deal with the Devil to keep their seats and now they invoke the angels to save it from me. It doesn't work that way."

"So don't worry about my new private island or the new presidential super yacht I take to get there as I rethink my tax plan. After I lifted the blockade against Trinidad, they were nice enough to gift me Tobago. You know better than anybody, that's not a quid pro quo."

Charged matters

My presidential avatar just said wildly inaccurate stuff about McSally and Sinema. Total nonsense, in fact. But there are stray nuggets of truth to circle back to and that's what's lethal.

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What I've done jumble facts adjacent to the senators' pasts to come up with a Trumpian charge — one that is simple, and totally false, but takes time to refute as it highlights a possibly legit issue that's hard to untangle from the allegation.

McSally flew combat (in case you didn't hear) to oust the Taliban. The Taliban had all but put an end to the Afghan poppy industry. They also harbored the terrorists who plotted and executed the 9/11 attacks.

So banging that drum raises legit policy discussions about the Afghan war's affects on the opium explosion. That legitimacy can frame the lie that McSally did anything other than her duty.

Of course, none of us but her know for 100 percent fact that my (or any wild charge) is false. I have absolutely no evidence to prove it. On the other hand, does that imply that maybe there is evidence that I don't know? Plus, "many people are saying" that stuff related to the accusations is true.

So voters on the go can just say "eh, screw it. She probably did something. After all, the whole system is corrupt and she's part of it."

Sinema, in her Green days right after 9/11, protested the war in Iraq. She was on a Libertarian talk radio show and was having a very conceptual discussion about whether the state should have the right to ban citizens from joining groups like the Taliban. The host said they shouldn't, and Sinema said it was OK with her. It was a boneheaded move. It was not collusion.

In no way does that make her the 21st hijacker. But if a president tweets it 22 times, then the media will spent days blathering about how preposterous the charge is. Voters on the go will hear the charge over and over ... and ask themselves "she did what? Supported 9/11?"

It's what Joseph Goebels discovered, Michele Bachmann re-learned, Sarah Palin pioneered and Donald Trump has made his legacy. The more outrageous the claim, the faster it spreads. People are willing to split the difference between a lie and the truth.

I mean hey, they're all corrupt so they're probably guilt of something.

Guilt isn't the point. The argument is the point. How many crimes has Hillary Clinton been indicted for? None. How many times have Republicans investigated her? Plenty.

Biden had a Ukrainian prosecutor fired for not investigating corruption, including possible corruption involving the company where Hunter Biden sat as a board member. Yet Trump is saying that Biden's ouster of the crooked Ukrainian prosecutor was an act of corruption to protect his son. That there is no evidence becomes a bizarre justification for asking Ukraine to announce an investigation.

Note that what Trump wanted was an announcement, so he could use it to smear Biden. He wasn't pushing Ukraine to actually investigate anything. That part not only wasn't necessary, it had the potential to undermine the Trumpian strategy when it showed that nothing was untoward.

Are you getting this, senators? Confirming the system is dirty means you never get to assert that you are clean.

Keep it clean

So the question before McSally and Sinema is simple: Can a president use public office for personal gain? Is corruption to be discouraged? If not, it's an admission that the whole system is corrupt, so Trump is just guilty of getting caught.

That sets a new standard. From now on the U.S. national security apparatus is there for a president to use for his re-election by turning it into a weapon to use against political opposition.

If it's not the rule for everyone, then they are saying that guilt or innocence doesn't depend on actions but political identity. There's a rule for Democrats that doesn't apply to Republicans. In that case, the U.S. is no longer a constitutional republic.

It's a despotic state devoted to a single political party, run by a single individual. If everyone's dirty, senators, you can never again say you are clean.

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist who worked in daily journalism for 20 years and also worked in Democratic political communications. Now he’s telling you things that the Devil won’t.

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The White House

Trump awaits the judgment of Sens. Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema.


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