Senate Republicans have been cocky during the impeachment trial, celebrating the fact that they already have the votes to acquit. This is no doubt true and has been true since the process began. But as the GOP merrily continues on a course of not calling for witnesses, even if John Bolton offered to appear — which he has — they seem to be pleased that the trial will be fast. No doubt that it will.
But if they are pleased, so too is Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House. Democrats make the most of their time pointing out unpleasant facts given by presidential advisors. No one disputes the facts, they only argue whether Donald Trump’s actions measure up to impeachment and removal. Since removal has never been in the cards, the GOP blithely ignored the facts and have given Trump a cookie-cutter defense. He has not been well-served.
Somehow, Republicans with their smugness think that Democrats really want to get rid of Trump. He is probably the only incumbent who could lose, given the economy. Pelosi’s target is really the Republican party, which has behaved predictably. Vulnerable senators such as Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis and Martha McSally have placed themselves in the cross-hairs of the Democrats. If any Republican votes with the impeachers, Pelosi no doubt would be displeased.
Trump, whose agenda is flexible, can live with these maneuverings. What he will find harder to accept is that his GOP allies have not given him a proper defense. Adam Schiff and the Democrats did very well, producing evidence despite Senate Republican obstructionism. They needed to be answered in a better way than Trump’s legal team chose.
The Ukrainian situation was always more complicated than either Democrats or Republicans would concede. Trump tried to make an accommodation with Moscow, thus getting resistance from high national security advisors. In time, Congress voted weapons to Ukraine, which Trump opposed and tried to stop. Particularly Trump’s problems are a result of GOP clandestine sabotage of his foreign policy. No doubt the Hunter Biden affair struck Trump as a peculiar example of American attempts to undercut Moscow through Kiev.
But not a peep was heard from the crew of attorneys defending Trump. The reason is that the GOP representatives did not like the president’s flirtation with Russia. In his attempt to get passed his own party, Trump made mistakes and abused his office. But the root cause was others attempting to control him within the White House.
Pelosi has seen this dilemma perfectly, giving House managers room to make a case that received no factual response. Republicans, more than Trump, have been hurt, appearing like hacks who simply want to make it all go away. Democrats are pleased, Trump is pleased and the GOP does not know what is about to hit it in November. Kentucky, Louisiana, and Virginia were no flukes.
Unlike Huey Long’s 1929 impeachment in Louisiana, the GOP has not taken advantage of its opportunity. Long’s representatives made their defense around policy.
The GOP, in 2020, made it about process.