But what Schiff said to inspire this frenzy of praise made no sense. The line of argument was this: “Our case for convicting and removing Trump is incontrovertible. Yet if we aren’t allowed to call more witnesses, this trial will be a complete sham.” How can each part of that statement sit with the other? Either the case has already been thoroughly proven or a fair trial requires calling additional witnesses to establish proof. Both can’t be true. A closing argument like that would be laughed out of a law school classroom. Yet there it was, floated by the leading House manager at the impeachment trial of a president, and those who were already convinced of the president’s guilt before the trial began were driven into spasms of ecstasy upon hearing it while others were left cold.
That’s because the trial is politics. Schiff was giving a political speech and it was received as such.
How many times are we going to play this game? How long will we let the fantasy of winning an extra-political pronouncement of Trump’s awfulness dominate our public life? Trump isn’t going to be removed from office through any kind of legal remedy. He can only be defeated at the ballot box. John Bolton’s story is going to get out one way or another — if not in sworn testimony in the impeachment trial then in a thousand TV news spots and in a book that will be purchased by the millions. The story and its import for the president will then be tried in the only court that really counts: the court of public opinion.