As the formal presentations in the impeachment trial of President Trump wind down, the jockeying is beginning for what happens next. Will there be more witnesses? Will there be a vote to acquit? Will there be some kind of bargain where the Democrats and GOP each get a finite number of witnesses?
And there is a lot of monumentally un-serious #Resistance porn floating around concerning Chief Justice John Roberts riding to the rescue of what can only be described as an ill-conceived bill of impeachment executed by a wildly incompetent team of House Democrats. They’ve claimed that Roberts can recuse senators from voting for lack of impartiality (this rule, apparently, only applies to Republicans). They’ve claimed that Roberts can order the Senate to call witnesses. Today, Resistance guru Neal Katyal is peddling the idea that Roberts can call his own witnesses.
Even IF 4 Republican senators can’t find the spine to vote for witnesses & documents, there’s another way. Chief Justice Roberts can subpoena witnesses, & it takes 2/3 of the Senate to overrule not 51, according to @neal_katyal #BoltonMustTestify https://t.co/p39LCsxQ42
— Rio Tazewell (@RioTazewell) January 27, 2020
You really have to question the integrity and even the humanity of people who can only maintain a following by deliberately and knowingly lying to people who actually believe them, but that’s where we are in our politics.
I’ll just remind everyone that the exact same rule and argument applied with equal validity to the filibuster for Supreme Court justices and Circuit Court judges. It takes a 2/3 vote to change the rule unless 51 senators decide to change that rule. This is, of course, the “nuclear option.”
Just an hour or so ago, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham gave an impromptu presser and I think we can learn a lot about the outlines of what happens next from it.
Sen. @LindseyGrahamSC on witnesses: "I'll make a prediction; they'll be 51 Republican votes to call Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, the whistleblower and the DNC staffer at a very minimum." pic.twitter.com/jpoJIfzg7k
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 28, 2020
GRAHAM: Here’s where I am on witnesses. I’m ready to make my decision based on the record established in the House. The House chose to pursue witnesses that were available to them. I don’t want to start a precedent of just doing it half-assed in the House and expecting the Senate to fix it.
I think the New York Times story…I have no idea what they are talking about…Senator Lanford suggested making the manuscript available in a classified setting to let senators go read it for themselves. That sounds like a reasonable solution to me. However, if people want witnesses, we’re going to get a lot of witnesses. This idea of calling one-and-one makes zero sense to me.
What I would say is that there is not a scintilla of evidence that the Biden’s connection to the Ukraine is inappropriate. There is a tsunami of evidence. So the House managers told the Senate that this is ‘baseless’ that it’s been ‘debunked,’ and I think the defense team, yesterday, made a damning indictment of what Hunter and Joe Biden allowed to happen and it’s not in America’s interest to see this happen again in the Ukraine where Hunter Biden turned it basically into an ATM machine. We’re going to go to that, and there’s media reports, people in your business, that suggested a DNC staffer [Alexandra Chalupa] met with Ukrainian officials about the 2016 election. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if we’re going to open this up to additional inquiry, we’re going to go down the road of whether it was legitimate for the President to believe there was corruption and conflicts of interest on the Biden’s part in the Ukraine. We’ll explore that, and whether or not there is any credibility to the idea that the DNC may have been working with the Ukraine.
REPORTER: What is your vote going to be on that opening question of whether there should be witnesses…
GRAHAM: I’ll let you know Friday, but right now I feel comfortable to the idea I have enough and I’m just telling everybody who thinks you can surgically deal with this, it’s not going to happen. I’ll make a prediction. There will be 51 Republican votes to call Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, the whistleblower, and the DNC staffer, at a very minimum.
REPORTER: [garbled] you’ve said that aid conditioned on the investigation of Biden would be wrong…
GRAHAM: I’ve said, basically, what they’ve proved to me is it would have been wrong for President Trump not to raise this issue. You have to be willfully blind and say Democratic misconduct doesn’t matter to you not to believe that the President had a good reason to ask the Ukraine to look into the Biden affair. He had media reports right before the July 25th meeting. As much as I like Joe Biden, he needs to answer questions of why he allowed his one to continue to receive millions of dollars from Burisma when he should have known it was a conflict of interest. If a Republican had been in that same situation, you’d be all over all of us wanting to know why we’re not calling these people as witnesses. So, as much as I like Joe Biden, he has to answer for his time a the leader of anti-corruption efforts in the Ukraine.
I’d say these are the topline points from the interview
- The House did not come close to making its case.
- The Bolton manuscript doesn’t seem to have caused the epidemic of onanism amongst the GOP Senate caucus that it has in the press. My gut is Lankford’s proposition is more likely that not the route the Senate will take and we’ll find that the Bolton book doesn’t say exactly what it is being purported to say.
- There is no stomach for allowing the House Democrats to call witnesses that expands their case beyond what has been presented.
- The idea that the Democrats are equal partners here is silly.
- The idea that the Democrats can limit who the GOP calls is silly.
- If witnesses are called, the President’s team will be allowed to present an affirmative defense that desiring investigations by the Ukrainian government was justified.
- That once we start down the path of witnesses, the Democrats probably are not going to like how it all ends any better than they wolid like a vote to not call witnesses.
There is a lot of similarity between Graham’s interview and the epic beat down administered by Ted Cruz yesterday
Cruz made many of the same points. He said the House did not make its case and that he thought President Trump would have been obligated to investigate the Biden Ukraine shenanigans.
Some of this is setting out a negotiating position. Some of this is putting the Biden corruption machine in plain view of the nation. Some of this is telling the Democrats that they should be very careful what they ask for.
I think, on the whole, the GOP is feeling confident that the President’s team gave them what they need to vote to acquit but they don’t want to push their luck. I suspect that a large number of Democrat senators, many of whom were not crazy about the impeachment to begin with, will be willing to take the ‘L’ rather than end up being the reason that Joe Biden has to testify, in public, on his corruption in the middle of a presidential primary.