Boredom and delirium were understandable reactions for elected officials who have closely been paying attention to the case since September. But what do they think, then, of what they claimed to already know? The senators who were assessing the efficacy of Schiff’s presentation on the plane of “new” versus “not new” were doing so as an evasion of how they should be assessing it: as “good” or “bad” behavior on the president’s part.
The trial was structured to allow for that evasion. Republicans have successfully maneuvered around the evidence that already exists for removing Donald Trump from office. Their ability to do so probably wouldn’t change even if damning new information came out, but it’s nevertheless in their interest to keep anything new from coming out. That’s why 13 hours were spent on Tuesday rejecting Democratic amendments to subpoena new witnesses and documents at the outset of the trial. That kind of information that could have infused Schiff’s presentation with the fresh material it was lacking. The strategy was to block Democrats from obtaining new material, and then to mock their presentation for failing to present any new material. In judging it that way, they elide the crucial question: Whether Donald Trump had admirably discharged his duties as president in the Ukraine affair.