EDITORIAL: The moment of truth for Cory Gardner and Republicans arrives in the Trump impeachment trial

Sen. Cory Gardner and Gov. Jared Polis in Aurora. File Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

It takes little imagination to understand the quagmire President Donald Trump has dragged the Republican Party into, including Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner.

The consistent and compelling — albeit sometimes circumstantial — evidence against Trump leads to only one logical conclusion: Trump is guilty as charged in the House articles of impeachment. 

The insistence that the case against Trump is flimsy or merely a partisan fabrication is an untenable lie. The House investigation methodically illustrates how Trump tried to extort the Ukranians into playing along with Trump’s perilous scheme to undermine Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. It takes little imagination to understand Trump’s motivation because he sees Biden as the greatest Democratic threat to his re-election.

The case against the president in the scheme is clear that Trump tried, Trump got caught, and Trump ultimately failed.

It’s not laughable that GOP U.S. Senators such as Joni Ernst of Iowa dismiss the serious allegations with their illogical banter. It’s alarming.

The only compelling argument is whether Trump’s misuse of his office and military aid to the Ukraine to undermine Biden warrants removal from office.

For us, and for most Americans, it does.

Aurora Congressman Jason Crow, a House manager trying the case now in the Senate, has offered a meticulous and convincing illustration of how Trump’s crime was not academic nor victimless. The aid that a bi-partisan majority of Congress approved and Trump surreptitiously withheld meant life or death to thousands of Ukranian soldiers fighting Russian invaders. Fighting in sneakers and without armor, Ukranian fighters went without almost $300 million worth of equipment. Crow, himself a battle veteran, explained how even days, let alone weeks or months, mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield.

Just as important, if the Ukrainians fail to contain Russian invaders, and the battle spills into Europe, it’s easy to see how the lives of Americans and other allies will be in jeopardy.

Every reputable expert will detail the direct link from the result of the Ukraine’s war against the Russian invasion to the security of the United States and almost every American and NATO ally. Trump’s choosing to use the Ukraine quagmire as an opportunity to undermine Biden created a dangerous threat to national security and the lives of American soldiers.

Those are the stakes Trump gambled with in his extensive effort to blackmail the Ukranians.

The non-partisan, investigative arm of Congress ruled that the Trump administration illegally withheld that military aid. Not even the president’s most ardent defenders have offered a believable explanation of Trump’s behavior.

They cannot. The scheme was anathema to every standard of American values and leadership.

The nation and the world knows that if a Democratic president had done the same thing, Republicans would be howling for resignation or trials for treason, and rightfully so.

What the nation needs, and perhaps some Republicans in Congress, is to hear definitive proof, not just overwhelming evidence, of how Trump covertly manipulated the government to do his personal, political bidding.

Only additional evidence and sworn testimony can offer that now. And only Gardner and a smattering of Republican members of the Senate can realistically make that happen.

Gardner and a few other self-proclaimed moderate Republicans in the Senate can swing the inevitable vote to demanding critical witnesses address the jury of senators and answer questions.

Democrats deserve criticism that they should have waited for courts to decide whether the Trump administration should be allowed to stonewall the House investigation.

The Constitution is clear on the matter. They can’t. Congress has every right to investigate the administration as a matter of its outlined duties.

The charges against Trump and the need to have a clear understanding of what the president did far outweigh the temptation for Republicans to punish Democrats for their impatience during the House investigation. In doing so, Republicans punish the nation and undermine the foundation of American government.

The Senate now has the right, and the responsibility, to bring former National Security Advisor Director John Bolton and other implicated and knowing White House officials before Congress to detail the truth or perjure themselves.

This is Gardner’s final opportunity to show his constituents in Colorado that he is willing and able to put the interests of the nation above those of Trump, the Republican Party and possibly, his own political future.

He has greatly disappointed all of Colorado when pressed to this test in the past. But the stakes have never been this high.

Either Gardner will help Democrats and others bring critical witnesses before the Senate or he will certainly forfeit his future in Congress. Doing the right thing and pressing for vital witness testimony won’t guarantee Gardner’s re-election to his Senate seat this fall, but falling in line with the partisan ploy to protect Trump and cover up his crimes will undoubtedly ensure Gardner’s defeat.

Given the threats by the president against Gardner and others for disloyalty, it’s truly an unenviable position Gardner finds himself in.

This is what Gardner and the Republican Party, nationally and in Colorado, have become. 

We appeal to Gardner’s professed sense of independence and virtue. Help the Senate compel witnesses and evidence that will either cement the House case against Trump, or disprove it, as Trump allies insist is possible.

Americans deserve to know all they can, and this may be their only opportunity.