Well, this is a new one.
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s disastrous decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) suggested that she had figured out what led Trump to this: Impeachment!
Yes, impeachment. Here’s Cheney on “Fox & Friends” on Monday:
“The impeachment proceedings that are going on and what the Democrats are doing themselves to try to weaken this President is part of this. It was not an accident that the Turks chose this moment to roll across the border. And I think the Democrats have got to pay very careful attention to the damage that they’re doing with impeachment proceedings.”
Wait, wait, wait.
So because Democrats — three weeks as of Tuesday — formally launched an impeachment inquiry centered on Trump’s conduct in Ukraine, the President decided to go pull troops out of Syria?
The argument here is, well, nonsensical. The decision to pull troops was Trump’s and Trump’s alone. The reason that the Turks began to “roll across the border” is because of the announced withdrawal of American troops from northern Syria. And again, that withdrawal decision was Trump’s — against, it’s worth adding, the clear wishes of his own party.
Cheney’s argument would be funny if she wasn’t serious about it. There is simply no way to lay Trump’s decision on Democrats or impeachment. Like, none.
If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was monitoring the impeachment efforts to drive his military strategy, why didn’t he invade Syria three weeks ago? What’s that, you say? Because American troops were still there? Oh, yeah!
Cheney was an early critic of Trump’s move, tweeting on October 9, “News from Syria is sickening. Turkish troops preparing to invade Syria from the north, Russian-backed forces from the south, ISIS fighters attacking Raqqa. Impossible to understand why @realDonaldTrump is leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS.”
Giving Cheney a massive benefit of the doubt, it’s possible what she was trying to say Monday was that Turkey saw the impeachment efforts as something that might weaken Trump’s resolve in foreign policy. But again, the Turkish weren’t going into northern Syria until Trump announced that he had authorized the removal of American troops from that region. That decision was the catalyst. Everything else followed from it.
It’s not hard to see what Cheney is doing here: She’s trying to change the subject from Trump’s clear mistake in Syria to the Democrats and impeachment. Which, politically speaking, makes sense! After all, would you rather talk about a totally indefensible decision, in the eyes of lots of Republicans, by the President on foreign policy or just attack Democrats for their so-called “witch hunt” against Trump?
The problem for Cheney here is, well, logic. There is absolutely no connection between the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and Turkey’s troop movements. On the other hand, there is a 100% connection between Trump’s announced troop withdrawal and the Turkish move.
How can Cheney say any of this with a straight face? Simple. Trump has so degraded truth and facts that people like Cheney — the third ranking Republican in the House — feel empowered to just make stuff up, knowing that the GOP base (of which a vast majority get their news exclusively from Fox News) will believe it without question.
This is the trickle-down effect of Trump’s active work to erode truth. And my guess is, we ain’t seen nothing yet.