Our Impressions Of Trump’s Senate Trial So Far
Democrats’ rigor met by Republicans’ disdain
The Democratic impeachment managers from the House have conducted themselves remarkably well. Especially lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff (D) CA. They’ve been rigorous at backing up all their contentions with the evidence they do have, and pointing out where gaps exist that could be filled with only a small amount of political will on the part of a few Republicans. For instance, holding up copies of such heavily redacted documents from the White House budget office as to obscure all but a smattering of inconsequential words. They’ve also made good and continuous use of video clips from earlier hearings they conducted. And maybe even more powerfully from some of Trump’s in-passing statements, now mercilessly but fairly put into context.
While the House impeachment managers spent a lot of Thursday painstakingly addressing the President’s motives, and how he truly put major security arrangements in Europe in jeopardy for his own personal gain, they’re also not shying away from the name “Biden”, nor the overarching implication: that this really isn’t only about Trump and Ukraine. It’s about Trump’s gangland approach to the Presidency, of which his gang-leader style dealing with Ukraine’s new President is a mere snapshot of a pattern of untethered dirty dealing that grows overall day by day. That’s even more directly reflected in the 2nd article of impeachment: Obstruction of Congress.
Trump’s team on the other hand seems astonishingly unprepared, and not even particularly familiar with a lot of facts of the case. And they’re not really playing against the hand the House managers hold, instead insisting they shouldn’t be there in the first place because there’s no real crime other than a partisan sh*tstorm.
To be fair, Trump’s lawyers haven’t yet made their full defense of the President. That’s likely to start tomorrow. Just some arguments and rebuttals so far. Though when Trump’s lawyers have appeared, their presentation has been so ludicrously clunky, we almost think it may be on purpose, as if to cop the attitude that “we don’t need adequate preparation because this is already soooo in the bag.”
That might be a solid approach if their only audience is Republicans in the Senate who probably won’t defy Trump. Or if they do, not too much. But if their audience is the American public: voters, that approach does not seem so likely to bear fruit. If your whole schtick is disdain, you still have to effectively explain why you’re disdainful, don’t you? Unless the American public isn’t really paying attention. Are they/we?
We said in yesterday’s column we had faint hope a handful of Republican Senators might come together to force at least a couple of witnesses: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney are real long-shots, but former National Security Advisor John Bolton for a Biden might be more doable. But we believe less and less that’ll have any chance of happening.
It’s almost like Republicans are hardening in their resolve because Democrats are doing such a good job presenting their case. Vote down Democrat requests for witnesses, and Republicans can make it go away at least until the next election. It’s done. Extend, and lead Democratic impeachment manager Adam Schiff will continue hit on ever more salient points. (And of course now Trump is trying to sell a story that it’s really Democrats, not him and Republicans who don’t want witnesses.)
Chief Justice John Roberts, who’s presiding over the Senate trial, seems remarkably uncomfortable, and has an unexpectedly high pitched voice, especially when he’s starting up after he hasn’t spoken in a while.
And while Trump’s been talking about the trial right and left, insisting he’d love his people to testify, which is completely not true (but gives him the ability to say forever that he would’ve loved his people to testify), another loudmouth has been conspicuously silent through all of this: Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Democrats mention him frequently in many instances where he appears to be the “smoking gun”. But from Giuliani himself? Not a peep, which is somewhat surprising. Unless there’s something we missed.
Trump’s also been Tweeting, and there taking a somewhat new, but characteristically misleading tack: “Obama did it too!” We thought he hated everything Obama did since he’s so busy undoing all those “disaster” policies.
And Trump’s announced a clever move: holding a rally in New Hampshire on the eve of the primary there, which is almost sure to steer the spotlight away from Democrats. Though it’s hard to say which Democrats that would help/hurt the most. Although Bernie Sanders has been surging in his neighboring state, while Joe Biden’s been slipping a little. Of course, Trump’ll draw a bigger crowd than any of them, and you can be sure you won’t stop hearing about that…