The impeachment trial of President Trump seems imminent and the Democrats are stuck with how to make the best out of the steaming pile of feces that is the entire impeachment smear. Nancy Pelosi thought that she could make the Senate do her will because she had leverage. As it turned out that leverage was more akin to a millstone, unfortunately only figuratively, about her neck and she had to fold despite the advice she was getting from the Dean-Tribe-Conway brain trust (note, there are three of them and brain is singular). On the public relations side, Tribe (again) and other lackwits have been winding up the #Resistance with stories about how Chief Justice John Roberts will forcibly recuse GOP senators and require witnesses (ummm, no he won’t, he will act under Senate rules as set by a majority vote).
The other thread that is running is that now that the wily impeachment genius of the House has worked her magic, the wily impeachment genius in the Senate will pick up the baton and deliver victory. This from one of the most gut-wrenchingly obscene pieces of fluffing you will ever witness headlined How Schumer might get the last laugh on impeachment trial.
Chuck Schumer lost the first impeachment trial battle to Mitch McConnell. But the Democratic leader and his party insist they can still win the war.
While Senate Majority Leader McConnell has locked up enough Republican votes to ignore demands for a bipartisan framework for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, his Democratic counterpart is readying a counteroffensive. Schumer will force a series of votes designed to squeeze vulnerable Republicans and harm them on the campaign trail if they side with Trump.
Democrats argue the half-dozen at-risk GOP senators will need some daylight between them and Trump to get reelected. And if they vote against Schumer’s motions to hear new evidence and witness testimony, they’ll be seen as Trump sycophants — undermining their bids and boosting Schumer’s odds of becoming majority leader.
Look when you are dealing with folks with the moral courage of a Susan Collins, you can never be all that sure of how things will play out, but there is ample reason to think that this is more of the #Resistance circle jerk that gave us “Chief Justice Roberts will make Lindsey Graham recuse himself” that a real strategy by Schumer.
Here is where I think the Schumer strategy become little more than a press release. Calling witnesses is not a big deal if those witnesses have already been deposed by the House. New witnesses and new evidence rapidly become a case of mutually assured destruction. If a Susan Collins is put in a situation of voting to hear new evidence and witnesses, say John Bolton (by the way, if you think Bolton would say anything damaging about President Trump in an impeachment trial, you need urgent mental health counselling), then she is also going to vote to hear Rudy Giuliani. I’m not sure the Democrats are going to want to deal with that. In fact, the whole witness issue is largely blue smoke and mirrors. There is no way McConnell is going to oppose witnesses unless he knows he has the 51 votes he needs to win and CBS news is reporting that the White House is anticipating four GOP senators to vote to call witnesses: Collins, Murkowski, Romney, and Gardner.
Moreover, the electoral calculus cuts two ways. Does the Quisling Caucus think it will pick up more Democrat and ‘moderate’ votes by voting with Schumer, or being seen to vote with Schumer, than they will lose GOP votes? My gut it that the votes on impeachment trial motions are going to be major issues in November and the old “I voted for it before I voted against it” dodge isn’t going to work.
In fact, Democrat strategists are starting to say that the smartest thing the Senate Democrats can do is get this over with and fast.
The question for Democrats is whether the value of witnesses outweighs the risks.
The upside is the possibility that figures close to Trump, from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to former national security adviser John Bolton, could produce new evidence that would harm Trump in the eyes of the public.
But the perils include testimony adverse to Democrats’ case, losing the opportunity to cast Senate Republicans in tough re-election campaigns as a cover-up squad for the president, and giving Trump a bigger platform to continue the guilt-by-aspersion campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden that triggered his impeachment in the first place.
Even if Trump advisers testify and Biden doesn’t, a fight would give Trump a measure of what he wants — more attention on Biden and his son, Hunter Biden — and it’s possible that witnesses called by Democrats would find ways, among them asserting executive privilege, to ensure that any testimony helps rather than harms the president.
I the end, there will be much less of a fight here that Politico is trying to invent. McConnell facing off against Schumer in a battle of organizational skill and political will will not be a battle of titans as Schumer is pretty much an empty suit. President Trump will be acquitted and there will not be any great drama in the witnesses called because neither side wants or needs that.