So what are we left with? Mitt Romney, alone with his principles, and Trump, angry, vengeful, and unconstrained by any constitutional threat. Until the voters render their verdict, in November, Trump will be the President he has always wanted to be: inescapable, all-powerful, and completely unaccountable.
Of course, I am glad the trial is over. How could one not be? Ever since 10 A.M. on September 25th, when Trump released the White House record of his call with the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, demanding that he “do us a favor though” and investigate Joe Biden, we were headed to this moment. It has been a long march to something this inevitable. The broad outlines of what Trump did were quickly evident. So, too, was the fact that Republicans were largely willing to excuse it. The public knew it, too. Phones were not ringing off the hook in Senate offices during the impeachment trial; the streets outside the Capitol were not clogged with protesters. “It’s like watching a game that you’ve recorded and intend to watch but then someone blurts out who won and what the score was, and you decide not to go back and just watch the replay,” Chris Coons, a Democratic senator from Delaware, reflected to me the other day.
The trial was more fake than even the disinterested public could have anticipated—the first impeachment trial in the Senate’s history not to call a single witness. Its end is a relief.