So, impeachment was … good, then? A new procedural opportunity to relitigate the veracity of “stop the steal” after 70+ failed court challenges and a big donut from the DOJ?
Well, then, on behalf of impeachment supporters everywhere: You’re welcome, I guess.
I am extremely excited about the prospect of Trump and his lawyers quintupling down on a vast voter-fraud conspiracy during a Senate trial where there’s a legit (if slim) possibility that he’ll be convicted. The more conciliatory Trump seems, the harder it’ll be for Senate Republicans to justify humiliating him with a conviction, however warranted it might be. The less conciliatory he seems, the easier it’ll be. Trying to co-opt the Senate trial to “prove” a massive vote-rigging plot at a moment when McConnell is focused on distancing the party from Trump and everyone in Congress is eager to lower the political temperature is the worst conceivable approach for everyone, from the president on down.
So that’ll probably be what happens. MAGA fans are ready:
One way to look at today’s events is that the House impeached Trump. The other way is that they just handed him the thing he wanted most: a national platform to put election integrity on trial. Senate will be like the Scopes Trial.
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) January 13, 2021
Religious-right leader Tony Perkins claims impeachment is "a double-edged sword for Democrats" because if there is a Senate trial, Trump will be able to introduce heretofore unseen evidence of voter fraud in his defense. pic.twitter.com/dqcKy6Sdbp
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) January 13, 2021
Also ready: Crazy Rudy Giuliani, who’s in line at the moment to be Trump’s lead counsel. Imagine Rudy entering a forum convened to decide whether to punish Trump for inciting a mob and exploiting it to incite that mob further.
NEW: Rudy Giuliani claims FBI is wrong, and antifa is behind the "key violence" at the Capitol (including propping up Air Force vet Ashli Babbitt before she was shot), and that he has evidence, coming from MAGA infiltrators, that he plans to give to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
— Daniel Chaitin (@danielchaitin7) January 13, 2021
For those curious: Giuliani said this on Steve Bannon's "War Room: Pandemic" today. At one point, Bannon said: "I don't mind being shut down for my craziness, but I'm not going to be shut down for yours." With Giuliani clearly bugged by that comment, Bannon says he's teasing
— Daniel Chaitin (@danielchaitin7) January 13, 2021
A deranged Giuliani ranting at an impeachment trial that the “QAnon Shaman” is actually antifa is the finale this series deserves.
For cripes sake, even Judge Jeanine knows it wasn’t Antifa:
Jeanine condemns her own viewers pic.twitter.com/m0SWtLVRf1
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) January 10, 2021
I assume McConnell or some messenger will convey to the president that Giuliani’s participation in the trial will be looked upon unfavorably by undecided jurors. Maybe Pirro will step up for the president? Jenna Ellis? He doesn’t have many options.
Maybe he won’t mount a defense at all and just dare the Senate GOP to convict him.
The latest setback for “stop the steal” propaganda, by the way, is the new U.S. Attorney in northern Georgia declaring that he can find neither hide nor hair of voter fraud there. The old U.S. Attorney couldn’t find it either, which is allegedly why he was pushed out by the White House a few weeks ago and the new guy was brought in. Maybe the old guy wasn’t looking hard enough? If so, the new guy isn’t either:
“I would love to stand out on the street corner and scream this, and I can’t,” said Bobby Christine, according to an audio recording of the call obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“But I can tell you I closed the two most — I don’t know, I guess you’d call them high profile or the two most pressing election issues this office has,” he said. “I said I believe, as many of the people around the table believed, there’s just nothing to them.”…
“Quite frankly, just watching television you would assume that you got election cases stacked from the floor to the ceiling,” said Christine. “I am so happy to find out that’s not the case, but I didn’t know coming in.”
There are many differences between the upcoming impeachment trial and the one held last year. The facts of this one are far simpler and better known; Trump’s political future is no longer nearly as important to the GOP; and most importantly, the Senate will be controlled by Democrats for this one, assuming that Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are able to participate. (They could be seated as senators as early as Inauguration Day.) With Kamala Harris’s help, Democrats will have the numbers to call witnesses this time. Which witnesses might they call?
Every single one of these former officials [who have since resigned in protest] should be forced to testify, under oath, at the Senate’s impeachment trial. Their testimonies should be part of the official government record. And their words should follow Donald Trump for all time.
In a perfect world, these people would step forward and volunteer their testimony. This world is not perfect, so they probably won’t. And in that case, the Senate should demand it.
Because it is difficult to imagine the impact of seeing former Attorney General Bill Barr swearing to Trump’s “betrayal of his office” at the impeachment trial.
Trump fans can fantasize if they like about the “elite strike force” of Rudy, Jenna Ellis, and Lionel Hutz finally proving voter fraud but in reality the testimony is more likely to be a roll call of figures like Brad Raffensperger and White House aides who observed Trump’s alleged indifference while the attack on the Capitol was going down. It’s not going to be great for him. That’s not to say there’ll be 67 votes to convict in the end, but the uncertainty of the outcome is all the more reason for Dems to parade a bunch of damning witnesses before television cameras. If they can’t get Senate Republicans to formally bar Trump from running again, they can wreck swing voters’ views of him so thoroughly that he’s a nonstarter in 2024 anyway. He’s leaving the White House for good next Wednesday.