Republicans taking part in the impeachment investigation aimed at President Donald Trump have been robust and creative in their defense of the president, none more so than California Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Some of the GOP committee members have held fairly close to the argument that Trump simply did not do anything wrong; not bribery, not extortion and certainly nothing justifying impeachment. Nunes, though, has often veered far afield into the la-la land of conspiracy theory. In Nunes’ mind, apparently, Trump is not only innocent, but everyone from Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden have been engaged in nefarious, corrupt, dark deeds that need to be investigated and rooted out. It’s as if Nunes spends all his waking hours tuning into Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity and warping his brain with InfoWars.

Nevertheless, the committee Republicans have done an effective job of obfuscation, thus giving their compatriots in the House and Senate ample justification for their future votes against Trump’s impeachment and conviction. It is no matter to them that the central damning scenario of this scandal has been repeatedly confirmed, even by the president himself: Trump wanted a foreign government to concoct an investigation aimed at undermining one of his chief political rivals. Republicans cannot seriously refute that core fact. They can only argue that Trump’s self-serving political scheme was no big deal, a viewpoint shared, according to polls, by the vast majority of Republican voters.

Like Nunes, those voters view the world through the conspiratorial lens of right-wing media, and there would be hell to pay for any Republican senator or congressman who dared to see things any other way.

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