Lindsey Graham: If Trump tries to prove election fraud at the trial, he's going to lose everybody

Do you understand now why I desperately want Trump to get crazy with the “stop the steal” cheez whiz at the trial?

If he doesn’t, these rodents will strut around for months falsely insisting that they would have convicted him if he had dared to come at them with half-baked conspiracy theories about unproved vote-rigging. That would amount to a “justifiable homicide” defense after a cop had been murdered by the crazed mob he incited, after all. Essentially he’d be arguing that the incitement happened and was righteous: If an election’s been stolen, what recourse do the people have if their representatives won’t intervene except to intervene themselves?

It’s an insult to Senate Republicans to believe they’d acquit a defendant who insulted them with a defense like that. Except … they absolutely would do acquit him and we all know it. I wonder who Graham thinks his target audience is for a quote like this, when everyone who follows politics knows that the Senate GOP couldn’t scrape together two balls between them apart from the usual Romney/Murkowski suspects in the center.

Acquittal is assured no matter how much of a circus Trump’s lawyers make of the trial. They could start smashing cymbals together like those toy monkeys while chanting “stop the steal” and Graham would vote not guilty anyway, shrugging that they simply don’t have jurisdiction to try a former public official. And speaking of which: If the Senate GOP sincerely believes that the Constitution forbids convicting someone who’s already left office, why would it matter to Graham whether Trump presents an election-fraud defense or not? If acquittal is required because the trial is unconstitutional, there should be no “don’t be a crank or else you might ‘lose’ us” ultimatums.

Because the fix is in, only two good things can come of the trial. One is House Dems using it as a forum to lay out the evidence of incitement, which deserves the public’s attention. They can’t make Republicans convict but they can make voters understand the extent of the propaganda effort from November 3 to January 6 and the motives for holding a rally on the day of certification. The other good thing would be Trump himself making the eventual acquittal as humiliating as possible for McConnell’s caucus. If they’re going to vote in bad faith to let him off the hook, they deserve to be embarrassed by him. A “stop the steal” defense would achieve that. Make Marco Rubio and the other R’s who are on the ballot in 2022 explain why they voted not guilty when Trump’s team was in there essentially arguing “justifiable insurrection.” Incitement after the fact, if you prefer.

Anti-Trumper Tim Miller wants to go so far as to have Trump testify in person. He can’t be compelled to do that, of course, but he can certainly be goaded into it. Call him a cuck enough times for not testifying and he might decide, “To hell with it. I’m doing it!”

While Democrats are certainly enjoying their respite from Trump’s madness, smoking him out during impeachment should be a strategic imperative if they want to maximize the pain that Republicans brought on themselves by going along with the Big Lie. Anytime these Republicans want to play cute with the facts or avoid admitting to the coup motivations in the lead-up to January 6, the president’s own testimony will pull the rug out from under them.

Plus Trump’s very presence would increase the emotional valence and drama around the proceedings. The coup-neutral Republicans benefit from letting time sand away at the raw emotions of Insurrection Day. That’s harder to do when the man responsible for the mob is forced to answer for it in a scene that is without precedent in American history.

An honest-to-goodness Col. Jessup moment in the making, right there in the Senate well. Did Trump order the code red on Congress? You’re g-ddamned right he did.

And Lindsey Graham would still vote to acquit him, of course. Even after a confession to incitement in open court.

I’ll leave you with this clip from last night, which wasn’t the first time Graham has warned that if Democrats insist on calling witnesses then the GOP will want to call them too. I continue not to understand why he thinks that’s an effective threat; there are no witnesses who’d obviously be damaging for Dems if they’re called, and not all liberals are opposed to a longer trial that gets into deeper detail about the attack. Could it be that Graham has a more personal reason to want to limit witness testimony? If Brad Raffensperger ends up on the stand testifying about his experience during Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, he might be asked to recall precisely what Lindsey Graham said to him about tossing out mail ballots during their own phone call in November.