A noteworthy leftover from yesterday. This morning I said that Collins, Murkowski, and Romney would command outsized influence over which witnesses do and don’t get called since McConnell wants a unified GOP vote for acquittal. There may be an understanding between them, even if it’s unspoken, that conducting the trial the way the moderates want it conducted will earn their votes against removing the president. (Collins is going to vote with Trump no matter what, but never mind that.) Toss in the likelihood of Joe Manchin crossing the aisle to vote for acquittal and suddenly Trump’s looking at bipartisan support in his favor with no bipartisan opposition, the best-case scenario he could have hoped for from this process.
For McConnell, in fact, bowing to the whims of the three moderates is a win/win. McConnell doubtless doesn’t want to get bogged down at trial in Trump shenanigans over CrowdStrike or having the whistleblower testify. He wants the process over with the moment the GOP can plausibly say, “We held a trial and gave the evidence a respectful hearing. We did our duty. Not guilty. Next.” Having the moderates around makes it easy for Cocaine Mitch to make that happen while also passing the blame when Trump and his fans get angry that he’s not hauling the Bidens in to testify. “It’s out of my hands,” McConnell can say. “We need 51 votes and you know how that Romney wing is.”
What makes this Graham interview significant is that it shows even a Trump apologist as loyal as him is thinking the same way, prepared to leverage his influence as Judiciary Committee chairman to wrap this thing as quickly as he possibly can. Which, maybe, makes his recent decision to start sniffing around Burisma less surprising. That may be Graham’s version of a compromise with TrumpWorld. They’d been after him to start using his gavel to vindicate Trump’s suspicions about the Bidens; Graham resisted for weeks, whether out of friendship to Joe Biden or the sneaking suspicion that he won’t find any corruption and then MAGA Nation will blame him for having failed the president. Graham knew, though, that soon the pressure from Team Trump would shift from having the Judiciary Committee investigate Burisma to having the Senate GOP use Trump’s impeachment trial, with its gigantic TV audience, to investigate it.