The Alternate Reality of Congressman Greg Gianforte

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Montanans have known for a long time that U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte has a minimal grasp on reality. I mean, who else would build a museum claiming humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time and dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark? But late last week, in an interview with reporter Tom Lutey, Gianforte outdid himself by claiming he “read the transcript” of Donald Trump’s impeachment-launching call with the Ukrainian president in which he asked for “a favor” in exchange for releasing hundreds of millions in military aid to the country. And what did Gianforte say? “I don’t think there’s anything there.”

The incredible irony of the situation is inescapable since while Gianforte was echoing the Ukraine talking points sent out by the White House, Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s chief of staff, openly admitted to reporters that the money had indeed been held up at Trump’s urging to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democrat “corruption” saying: “No question about that. But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”

When an ABC News reporter explained to Mulvaney that withholding the Congressionally-approved funding unless Ukraine launched an investigation into the Democrats is exactly the meaning of “quid pro quo,” Mulvaney responded: “We do that all the time with foreign policy” adding “get over it.”

Gianforte probably has a lot of time on his hands these days. As a member of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives who has already been disgraced by his shameful body slamming of a helpless reporter, he’s not very busy putting together more corporate-friendly, environmentally adverse legislation that won’t even get a hearing, let alone pass.

Perhaps, then, he might put that spare time to good use by reading the Constitution of the United States — the same Constitution he and all elected officials swear to uphold when they take their oath of office. In that hallowed document he will find that it is clearly prohibited for officials of the United States to seek foreign interference in electoral politics. Asking a foreign nation for “a favor” to investigate a political rival, as Trump did, is a blatantly unconstitutional crime.

But hey, just in case he remains hypnotized by Trump’s orders to deny reality, perhaps he could read a little further into the Constitution and see what it has to say in the Emoluments Clause about presidents taking advantage of their office to receive money from foreign governments or officials. Then old Greg might just want to juxtaposition Trump’s latest gaffe of declaring next year’s summit of industrialized nations, known as the G-7, be held at his financially ailing Doral resort in Miami.

The stone cold reality is that Trump will be funneling huge amounts of money into his own personal business. Adding insult to injury, the grifter-in-chief may also try to use taxpayer money to upgrade the resort to ensure the security of the heads of state and their entourages attending the G-7 summit. Mind you, if the summit was at Camp David, like past G-7 summits, none of this would be necessary. But of course then the foreign money wouldn’t flow directly to Trump’s self-admitted ever-greedy hands.

Gianforte thinks he’s what Montana needs for its next governor, although given his record of non-achievement in Congress, that’s about as nutty as cowboys riding dinosaurs. Trump has told more than 13,435 false or misleading claims in his thousand days in office. The last thing Montana needs is someone living in an alternate reality spewing Trump’s facetious talking points in our Governor’s Office. Our great state and its future deserve better.

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Daily Montanan, where this essay originally appeared.