I thought the plan was to try to get Trump’s own White House aides to testify at the trial, to build the case that he was unperturbed by the attempted putsch at the Capitol or possibly even “delighted” by it, as Ben Sasse claimed. That’s the only reason to proceed with an inquiry that’s destined to end in acquittal for corrupt partisan reasons. It’s a singular showcase to convince the public that your view of the gravity of the offense is the correct one even if the other party refuses for reasons of self-interest to go along.
But if Dems are going to race through the trial, presumably skipping witnesses, then I’m not sure what the point is. A truncated, perfunctory hearing would actually bolster the Rand Paul argument that the trial is a sort of sham. If even the prosecution can’t muster the energy to make a thorough case, why shouldn’t the public come around to Paul’s view that it’s all politics and not worth taking seriously?
The punchline here is that Democrats’ reason for speeding up the trial, i.e. freeing up time to focus on Biden’s policy agenda, is a nonstarter. Republicans aren’t going to work with the president and Dems know it. They’re going through the motions right now of trying to do a bipartisan COVID relief bill because there were bipartisan deals on that under Trump and because the White House wants to be able to say that it made a real effort to compromise before giving up. But the idea that they have better things to do with their time than hold a trial about the “stop the steal” campaign realistically just isn’t true.
“To do a trial knowing you’ll get 55 votes at the max seems to me to be not the right prioritization of our time,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told reporters Wednesday. “Obviously we do a trial, maybe we can do it fast, but my top priority is Covid relief and getting the Biden Cabinet approved.”…
“This is a pretty straightforward trial,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “I never thought it needed to be as long as the Ukraine trial which was a very complicated charge with a lot of witnesses and important testimony. I would hope we could get this done in a week.”…
Democrats are privately predicting the trial could start Tuesday February 9 and wrap up by the weekend. But the length of the trial could also depend on whether the House impeachment managers decide to bring in additional witnesses.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the new Budget Committee chairman who would help steer any relief package under reconciliation procedures, also signaled his desire to move quickly on the trial. “I would hope that we deal with that as quickly as possible,” he said, adding that he wants to see “the needs of working families” addressed.
Seeing Murphy and Bernie on the “speed it up” side is surprising since typically they’re attack dogs against the GOP. You’d expect them to be pounding the table, demanding that Trump be held fully accountable. As it is, there’s a real possibility that Trump’s second impeachment trial will take less time than his first. And that would feel perverse, as there’s no question that the “stop the steal” charade was a far, far worse offense than him proposing a quid pro quo to Ukraine’s president involving dirt on Biden. In a vacuum, it’s not necessarily perverse: A murder trial where the facts are crystal clear could reasonably take much less time than a burglary trial where the facts are murky. But the wrinkle here is that the defendant is destined to be found not guilty in both instances, leaving the public to conclude that perhaps the murder case took so little time because it was even weaker than the burglary one.
They can’t spend a few weeks methodically creating a record for posterity of this matter? Dan McLaughlin:
[N]one of these examples come close to the combined effect of word and deed in a sustained, false challenge to a democratic election, the effort to pressure multiple points in the system to violate their own oaths of office, and finally the choice to target with mob pressure the one gathering at which the vice president and the entire legislative branch would be in a single location to perform the last act of the Electoral College process. There has been nothing else like this in American history, and we should act as if we mean business to ensure there shall be nothing else like it ever again…
The argument for acquittal is, in essence, the argument of nihilism and despair: that so long as a president has some popular base within his own party, it does not matter what he does, it does not matter what the standard for impeachment is, it does not even matter if his conduct in office is a direct, existential threat to the continuation of the American system bequeathed to us by the Founders.
“[W]e should act as if we mean business to ensure there shall be nothing else like it ever again.” Would Democrats be acting as if they mean business if they don’t even attempt to call witnesses? If what Trump did was so heinous as to warrant a snap impeachment by the House, within a week of the impeachable offense being committed and without any hearings or committee process, how would a four-day trial consisting of little more than Democratic assertions about how bad it was do justice to its heinousness?
Here’s Lindsey Graham last night threatening … something. I’m not sure what. This is the same threat he and other Republicans made at the first impeachment trial last year: If you insist on calling John Bolton, we insist on calling Hunter Biden. Tit for tat. If your witnesses embarrass us, our witnesses will embarrass you. But, er, which witnesses does Graham expect to call on the subject of the “stop the steal” campaign and the riot at the Capitol that would do more damage to Democrats than to Republicans? Sidney Powell? Rudy Giuliani? C’mon. The only leverage R’s have with witnesses is dragging the trial out, thereby further impeding Biden’s agenda. But again: Which witnesses?
Lindsey Graham says if Democrats call witnesses, Republicans will want witnesses and the trial will go on for months pic.twitter.com/gqUDkI3V81
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) January 27, 2021