I understand the critique here but I’ve slid far enough past cynicism into nihilism that I just can’t get exercised about it.
Would people prefer that McConnell lied to their faces about how this is gonna go down when everyone knows the truth?
Credit the man for frankness.
Mitch McConnell: Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House Counsel. There will be no difference between the President’s position and our position as to how to handle this pic.twitter.com/baFaTKWvUl
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) December 13, 2019
“The Majority Leader proudly announcing he is planning to rig the impeachment trial for Trump,” harrumphed Dem Sen. Chris Murphy after that aired. Bill Kristol found it strange that the de facto jury foreman for the upcoming trial would admit that he’s working with the defense, particularly when the Senate’s own rules bind him to swear an oath that he’ll approach impeachment not as a politician but as a neutral finder of fact: “I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of ____, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.”
An “oath”? In 2019?
You serious, bro?
Do I have to pause here and remind everyone that Trump has already attempted to bribe his “jurors” by drumming up fundraising for those who criticized the House inquiry and excluding those who didn’t? “All of this is inescapable by dint of the fact that impeachment is not just a legal but a political process, and one that cuts both ways,” I said about that news at the time. “Just as House Democrats can impeach Trump for reasons that aren’t codified as a crime in any statute, Trump can use certain ordinary political levers to influence the people sitting in judgment of him.” How many House Dems who doubt that the president committed a high crime or misdemeanor in the Ukraine matter will hold their noses next week and vote to impeach anyway because Pelosi grabbed them by the throat and told them to or because they’re worried about a primary if they refuse?
If this were a solemn matter of getting to the truth about what Trump did or didn’t do with Ukraine, Democrats would have fought tooth and nail in court to overcome Trump’s claim of executive privilege and compel Mulvaney, Bolton, and the rest to testify. It’s politics, nothing more, that led them to drop their insistence on hearing from firsthand witnesses; they’re worried that the longer this drags on, the more it’ll sidetrack their policy agenda and the easier it’ll be for Republicans to argue that we’re now close enough to Election Day that voters, not Congress, should render the verdict.
Reality check: McConnell’s willing to be brazen in acknowledging that the trial will be managed as a political pageant, not as a fact-finding proceeding, only because House Democrats failed to impress the public at Schiff’s hearings. If the polling right now stood at, say, 60 percent in favor of removal, a figure like Mitch who’s given to hardnosed calculations about what’s in the best long-term interest of his caucus would want to keep a safe thousand-mile distance between Trump and the Senate GOP. He’s willing to admit upfront that the impeachment process is effectively rigged by partisanship only because Democrats have failed to build a bipartisan consensus that would force a rethink on that.
But yes, of course it’s off-the-charts cynical. This made me laugh:
Somehow there’s never enough “due process” for a defendant who’s permitted to bribe the people who’ll decide his fate. The irony of everyone getting worked up over McConnell admitting to being in Trump’s pocket here is that … he’s not actually in Trump’s pocket on the sensitive question of which witnesses to call at trial. I’ve been writing about that all week. Trump wants to put on a show and vindicate his suspicions about Burisma and the impeachment process itself by calling Hunter Biden and the whistleblower. McConnell, however, doesn’t want to make this process one iota harder for vulnerable Republican senators who are up for reelection next fall, which means avoiding any floor votes that would surely anger either the GOP base or left-leaning swing voters based on the outcome. His shtick about “total coordination” with the White House is a pander to the Fox News faithful that, whatever happens at trial (hint: almost no certainly no Biden and no whistleblower), it’ll come with the full — if reluctant — consent of their hero, President Trump. In an age of cultish partisanship, it’s not enough for Cocaine Mitch to deliver a unanimous vote among his caucus to acquit the president. He has to let Trump explore his theory that Ukraine framed Russia for the DNC and Podesta hackings or whatever or else he’s a lib sellout. That’s what this clip is about.
Reading these Politico and CNN stories, it sounds like McConnell and Trump’s lawyer, Pat Cipollone, have decided to play it by ear on witnesses. Things will proceed initially the way Lindsey Graham described yesterday: The impeachment managers from the House will present the evidence they’ve already collected, then Trump’s lawyers will make a presentation challenging it. Hopefully that presentation goes well enough that Trump will be placated by it and decide, fine, he doesn’t need to call any witnesses. Hopefully, moderates like Susan Collins and Cory Gardner are also sufficiently satisfied by it that they’re comfortable voting for acquittal at that point. If everyone’s happy, the vote is called and the trial is over without hearing any direct testimony. If everyone’s not happy, McConnell will need to broker some sort of compromise on witnesses — no doubt knowing that if either side gets to call one, the other side will demand to do so too. Stay tuned.
Update: Hahahah. Yes, Democrats are deeply opposed to coordination in the hyperpartisan environment of impeachment.
. @TomDaschle tells me just now: "My former staff reminded me this morning that while I was not in contact with the White House during the trial, they were. There was a need to coordinate on many levels. So I want to be sure that I didn't give you the wrong impression." https://t.co/d3sAvtM5l7
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) December 13, 2019