As Nikki Haley prepares to advance her political ambitions, she's apparently looking for new ways to pander to the Republican base. To that end, the former ambassador to the United Nations appeared on Fox News on Monday night to complain about her former boss' impeachment trial.
"The actions of the president post-Election Day were not great. What happened on January 6 was not great," Haley said in an interview on Fox News, referring to the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters. But, she added, impeaching him for inciting that mob, including in a rally that morning, was a "political game."
The South Carolina Republican told the national television audience, "I mean, at some point — I mean, give the man a break. I mean, move on."
What, pray tell, should be the consequences of Trump's "not great" role in inciting a deadly insurrectionist attack on his own country's Capitol? Haley didn't say. She simply wants the political world to "move on" -- because she believes Trump deserves "a break."
The Washington Examiner's Philip Klein responded yesterday, "A few weeks ago, back when she thought tide was turning against Trump, Haley said he would be 'judged harshly by history.' Now she realized she got ahead of her skis and is trying to take it back. As I've written, she is a human chameleon. She thinks we're too dumb to notice."
She's not the only one.
During an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) railed against Democrats' push for impeaching ex-President Donald Trump for inciting the attack on the Capitol, which ultimately led to five deaths.... "And so to coin a phrase, I think it's time to move on," he continued. "It's time to move on and focus on helping people get back to work, helping people beat this global pandemic, bringing America back to where we should be, not these partisan games the Democrats are playing."
OK, a few things.
First, Cruz really ought to be enjoying a little quiet time right now given his role in pushing his party's Big Lie, helping lead the crusade to overturn his own country's election results, and exploiting his efforts to subvert our democracy as the basis for a fundraising scheme.
Second, the idea that Cruz wants to put aside presidential accountability to focus on the economy and the pandemic is amusing, in part because officials can easily tackle both responsibilities simultaneously, and in part because the Texas Republican is extremely likely to vote against every major proposal presented by Democrats to address the economy and the pandemic.
But most important is the bottom line: the GOP senator, like Haley, believes it's time to "move on." The deadly attack on the heart of our democracy was a whole three weeks ago, so there's no point in holding Trump accountable for inciting the riot.
Note, neither Cruz nor Haley have presented a defense for Trump's misconduct. In fact, Haley went so far as to say her former boss' behavior was "not great." (I can only assume she's pursuing a Profile in Courage Award.)
But in lieu of a defense, Cruz and Haley have decided 21 days is long enough to care about a president inciting a deadly attack on the Capitol -- an attack intended to overturn election results through violence, and reward Trump with power he did not earn.
Making matters slightly worse, it may be tempting to dismiss this pitch as ridiculous nonsense, but it's quickly become the prevailing position of the Republican Party, as evidenced by yesterday's Senate vote, in which 90% of GOP senators said the impeachment trial is itself unconstitutional, reality notwithstanding.