Reeeeeally surprised that Schumer and Biden don’t want to drag this out a bit, just to give the media an excuse to rehash the many, many ways Trump tried to overturn the election leading up to January 6. Granted, Biden’s into “healing” and “unity” at the moment and doesn’t want high-stakes partisan warfare right out of the chute. And Dems have more important things to do, like confirming cabinet nominees and pushing mass amnesty, than getting bogged down in a new shouting match over how bad Trump was.
But still. They’ll never have a brighter spotlight than this to expose what was in fact a coup attempt by the president of the United States, however half-assed and amateurish it may have been. They could haul in White House aides to testify about what Trump intended in riling up the crowd at the January 6 rally and how he reacted behind closed doors after members of Congress called him begging for help. They could bring Bill Barr in to recount what he told Trump about his election conspiracy theories being BS or Brad Raffensperger to discuss the infamous phone call between him and Trump. It wouldn’t take three months to hold that trial. It might take three weeks, which is standard fare for an impeachment proceeding.
The answer to all of that may be, “Well, they can always haul those witnesses in as part of a commission investigating the post-election period later.” Right, but the public won’t be as interested in that topic later as it is now. And wouldn’t a commission also “disrupt” Biden’s and the Dems’ agenda?
On impeachment trial: Nothing is final & SCHUMER & MCCONNELL will ultimately decide how this goes down, but the idea of a THREE-DAY TRIAL is being floated behind the scenes.
That's fast! (Historically they've lasted 21-83 days.)
But Biden is eager to move on & some Ds agree… https://t.co/7OYVBEEF0M
— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) January 21, 2021
A three-day trial would almost certainly mean no witnesses, even though Democrats have the votes they’d need to call them — I think. Did Joe Manchin maybe tell Schumer behind the scenes that he wants the trial over ASAP and won’t be number 50 for subpoenaing anyone?
Another possibility is that McConnell already realizes that he doesn’t have the votes to convict and has relayed that information to Schumer. Which raises the question: Which way is Cocaine Mitch voting? Reportedly he was “pleased” that the House moved so swiftly to impeach Trump over the Capitol riot and sounded open to voting to remove. But that was before the House GOP caucus moved to defenestrate Liz Cheney over her own vote for impeachment. Maybe, for the sake of party harmony and maintaining his own grip on his caucus, McConnell’s going to wimp out. His colleagues are watching him closely:
“If he does [vote to remove], I don’t know if he can stay as leader,” said one senior GOP senator who said several of his colleagues held similar views and asked not to be named discussing sensitive internal politics…
“No, no, no,” Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican and Trump ally, told CNN when asked if he could support McConnell if he voted to convict Trump, calling such a vote a “dangerous precedent” and adding: “I don’t even think we should be having a trial.”…
Asked what it would mean for the party if Republicans joined Democrats to convict Trump, [Tommy] Tuberville said: “It wouldn’t be good. The whole thing is about a team, and if you start separating the team, then it just tears it up.”
Leave it to a college football coach not to want to punish terrible behavior because doing so would hurt the “team.” Said Mitt Romney to CNN, “We’re asked to apply impartial justice. We’re not asked to apply impartial justice unless it hurts your party.” I think McConnell is more of a Tuberville guy than a Romney guy when it comes to prioritizing “teamwork.”
Besides, he has a ready-made excuse for voting no: The BS argument that the Senate can’t properly convict an impeached official after he’s left office has now picked up the endorsement of chronic Trump apologist Alan Dershowitz. Senate Republicans were already warming to that argument as a way of weaselling out of convicting Trump by claiming a dubious jurisdictional problem, with Tom Cotton making the case for it in an op-ed last week. Having Dersh lend his legal expertise to it should only increase their investment in it. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of constitutional law to see the flaw in their logic, though. Very simply, if the president can’t be tried after he’s out of office then he’s free to abuse his power with impunity in the final weeks of his term. It’s an invitation to commit “high crimes or misdemeanors” with no risk of consequences unless he goes all the way and commits an indictable offense under federal criminal law. (And I doubt Dersh would be down for charging him in this case.)
A Twitter pal noted a few days ago that when lefties screamed it was “unfair” for Trump to fill Ginsburg’s SCOTUS seat just a few weeks before Election Day, righties reminded them that Trump was entitled to a full four years as president. The vacancy arose on his watch and therefore he was authorized to fill it. He hadn’t “lost” some of his presidential power just because the clock was ticking down on his term. That logic cuts the other way in this case, though. If he was fully entitled to exercise his powers from January 20, 2017 to January 20, 2021, he should be formally accountable to Congress for impeachable acts he took during the same period. He was right to appoint Amy Coney Barrett and the Senate would be right to consider whether to convict and disqualify him for future office for his “stop the steal” incitement.
As it is, I’m curious to see how many members of McConnell’s caucus butch up and justify their votes against removal on the merits. How many will flatly say afterward “I just don’t think the former president committed a high crime or misdemeanor in this case” instead of citing some lame theory about lacking jurisdiction? Will any of them? Ted Cruz, maybe? That’s where we’ll separate the men from the boys when it comes to Trump sycophancy.
Exit question: Is Trump even going to present a defense at the trial? What will the defense be? “Yes, I spent two months lying to people that the election had been rigged and their country was being stolen from them, but I never actually said the words, ‘Go murder Congress'”?