Behind Enemy Lines with Rachel Maddow, Part I

It was Friday night after an amazing week: the House finally passed the USMCA trade agreement replacing NAFTA, the markets ended a fourth consecutive week of breaking records, the President’s job approval numbers kept going up and up, and DoJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz provided more details of FBI’s biases and FISA abuse during testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. And then there was the debate on Thursday night by the Democrats’ Star Wars bar scene (a/k/a “top tier” Democrat presidential candidates). The debate was summed up perfectly here:

Oh, yeah, and the Democrats beclowned themselves with their partisan passage of two empty and “crime-less” articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Given the Democrats’ breathless 90-second statements about the dire urgency to impeach President Trump, as they bleated one after the other during the “debate” before the impeachment vote (I suffered through them all!), somehow Nancy Pelosi subsequently determined that impeachment is apparently not so urgent anymore, as she has delayed sending the articles to the Senate.

With all of that as backdrop, I decided to go behind enemy lines to see how Rachel Maddow spun the week on her low-rated show Friday night on MSNBC. It was like visiting an alternative universe or the “Twilight Zone.”

Leading off her show, Maddow was still giddy about the Democrats’ impeachment vote on Wednesday. “It was only two days ago that Nancy Pelosi ‘impeached Donald Trump,’” and more in the same vein. Then she shifted into her “four burning questions” about impeachment going forward. Let’s pick up her commentary introducing the first of her questions here:

Maddow (happily droning one): … There’s still the possibility that that means the President will be delivering his State of the Union address in the middle of his Senate impeachment trial. The uncertainty around the logistics of the Senate impeachment trial is one of the most interesting things going on in the news right now. … In the wake of the impeachment of President Trump this week, I have realized now that I have basically four main outstanding questions in terms of what happens next, and how this impeachment drama is all going to resolve. … The first one is about the impeachment trial and what the Senate is gonna be like. Now that the Senate is going to have to take up their part of the constitutional responsibility of impeachment, which is to hold a trial, and the US senators will have to decide if this president should be removed from office. This question of “How will the Senate impeachment trial be run?” is very much an open question. Everybody I think does agree that the Senate in fact DOES have to hold a trial – it’s not optional – but beyond that, what that means … the fight on that is on. It looks like it may very well extend through the Holiday break.

[Me: There won’t be much of a “fight.” The Democrats don’t get to set the rules in the Senate; the Republican majority does thanks to the “nuclear option” of only needed 51 votes to determine the process. But of course, that’s what the Democrats and their Democrat operatives in the media like Maddow are trying to do now – orchestrate support for Democrats controlling the process in the way that THEY wish it to unfold.]

Maddow (continuing): There were bipartisan rules that were unanimously agreed to for the last Senate impeachment trial, which was President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in the 1990s, which allowed for witnesses and documents and a certain number of hours of debate. The vote to adopt those rules in the US Senate for the Clinton impeachment was 100-0 because the Democrats and the Republicans worked it out together.

[Me: The Clinton impeachment was a horse of a different color, and she assumes people don’t understand the differences this time around. Clinton’s impeachment was a bipartisan process in the House, resulting in a bipartisan vote for impeachment based on his commission of 11 criminal offenses enumerated in the two articles of impeachment that were passed. Trump’s impeachment was an entirely partisan Democrat-run affair with hearsay and witness personal opinion presented as “evidence”, resulting in only Democrat votes to impeach on two articles, neither of which enumerated a a single crime allegedly committed by the President. And she expects us to overlook the Democrat House’s impeachment farce and cheapening of the Constitution for their personal politics and simply press on for “bipartisan rules” in the Senate since they know that they’re in the minority? Riiiight. And I don’t remember her taking the side of House Republicans in order to push for “bipartisan rules” for the House’s impeachment inquiry back in November, do you? Look how “bipartisanship” turned out in the Schiff show! Her hypocrisy knows no bounds.]

Maddow (continuing): Those rules for how the Senate trial was conducted were sort of the least controversial part of the whole Bill Clinton impeachment. That’s not like what it’s gonna be like this time. Sen. Mitch McConnell is not yet conceding that there should be ANY testimony ANY witnesses ANY factual review of documents or evidence whatsoever in this thing he nevertheless wants to call a trial. His recalcitrance on that, and so far his refusal to engage with the Democrats in terms of whether there might be any sort of bipartisan agreement about process for this trial …

[Me: Her spinning on behalf of Democrats continues! First of all, there is no stipulation whatsoever in Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution governing HOW the Senate shall conduct a trial. The clause only states that the Senate “shall have the sole power to try impeachments.” Let me ‘splain it to you, Rachel. That means the majority gets to decide the rules, and that House Democrats and media personalities have no say whatsoever in developing them. Zip, zero, nada. Sen. McConnell is right to publicly question whether there should be anything other than a perfunctory vote to acquit given the absence of any direct evidence of presidential conduct warranting impeachment.]

Maddow (continuing): I mean at that point, that’s why we don’t know when the Senate is even gonna receive the articles of impeachment from Nancy Pelosi and the House. I mean, House Democrats and Speaker Pelosi are saying they’re gonna wait until Sen. McConnell announces the Senate rules for this trial before they send over the articles and announce their impeachment managers who will act as prosecutors in the trial.

[Me: I say again, Democrats don’t run the Senate and don’t get to dictate terms. Pelosi is playing politics by withholding providing the articles of impeachment to the Senate in a timely manner. By the way, if Maddow and the Democrats are so big on historical comparisons, I wonder if they can point to a past impeachment in which the House sat on the articles as opposed to providing them forthwith to the Senate for action. Furthermore, even legacy media such as Bloomberg are saying that, in reality there “is no impeachment” until the articles are transmitted from the House to the Senate. McConnell need not do ANYTHING about setting the rules for a Senate impeachment trial until he receives the articles from the House. That’s the way it works!]

Maddow (continuing): The top Democrat in the Senate Chuck Schumer here last night on this program said that he and his fellow Democrats in the Senate “really believe they can get a handful of Republican senators to side with them and against Mitch McConnell to form a majority that will vote in the Senate on more typical impeachment trial rules that will look more like how the Senate proceeded in Bill Clinton’s case.

[Me: Good luck with that, Chuck. Wait until the Republican senators hear from their constituents about the House Democrats’ impeachment farce over the holidays as the watch the President’s poll numbers continue to rise going into the New Year. Republican senators watched how the Democrats ran the impeachment star chamber in the House and aren’t going to turn the other cheek and let Democrats run the show in the Senate.]

Maddow (continuing): So Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in the House are really in the catbird seat, right? They can hold on to the articles of impeachment for as long as they want. There’s no time limit on that in the Constitution.

[Me: She’s kidding, right? There is NO impeachment until the articles are delivered from the House to the Senate. Time is on McConnell’s side. Does Pelosi really want to delay sending the articles over until sometime in the middle of the Democrat primary season? Good luck with that strategy, Democrats.]

Maddow (summarizing): President Trump is impeached, and he remains impeached. He basically refused to engage in the House impeachment process, and so he hasn’t mounted a defense in this process yet. He has said that he wants to mount a defense in the Senate. If he wants to do so, there’s gonna have to be some sort of trial. Senate Democrats are actively courting their Republican colleagues to join them to set bipartisan rules. I mean this is all a very open question. And in terms of the White House role in all of this, there is conflicting reporting and now lots of speculation (flashing images of legacy news headlines) about what the President and what the White House more broadly might really want from the Senate. Might they actually want witnesses and documents and a real trial in which Trump can mount his defense, or would they prefer some sort of “neuterized” process where Mitch McConnell essentially accepts the articles of impeachment and then makes the whole thing go away with a swift gavel and no discussion.

[Me: well, we already determined that not everyone agrees that the President is “impeached” because the House hasn’t delivered the articles to the Senate yet. Heck, even one of the Democrats’ “legal scholar” witnesses, Noah Feldman, said that the House has to “forward them to the Senate for the proceedings to be legitimate.” The rest about what the President wants or doesn’t want is sheer speculation. A one-day “trial and acquittal” may achieve the President’s and the Republican-run Senate’s ends, with an agreement to subpoena various witnesses desired by the President before various Senate committees in 2020, e.g., the “whistleblower,” Hunter Biden, Alexandra Chalupa, and others. Rest assured, Rachel: the Democrats aren’t calling the shots like they did during the House impeachment charade.]

This ends discussion on Maddow’s “first burning question” on the impeachment process going forward. I will cover the other three questions she raised in subsequent articles.

The end.