With regard to his actions, the House managers prosecuting Trump during the Senate trial aren’t limited to “incitement,” which is, at least in some respects, in the eye of the beholder. The article of impeachment sent over from the House covers a range of Trump’s related misdeeds, including some that are much less subjective than incitement. Threatening state election officials and telling them to find votes is not a gray area. Holding meetings about firing Justice Department officials who won’t go along with the plot is not a gray area. Repeatedly making provably false claims about fraud in support of an effort to overturn the election result is not a gray area. A factual case that demonstrates this multi-pronged effort to overturn the election will be much harder for Republicans to weasel out of than incitement.
And the weaseling will become all but impossible if Trump himself is there to confirm his own transgressions. This past weekend, when Trump canned his impeachment lawyers, CNN reported that the former president’s falling out with his legal team was over his desire that the attorneys “argue there was mass election fraud and that the election was stolen from him.”
That leak should have Democratic impeachment managers licking their chops at the prospect of bringing the Trump freak show back to Washington. Trump’s congenital inability to acknowledge defeat or even attempt a face-saving lie about how he didn’t really want to steal the election puts Republican senators in a completely untenable situation.