As expected, the Sedition Party acquitted their 2024 candidate despite a mighty effort by the Democrats which yielded the most bipartisan impeachment and trial verdicts in history. Naturally the Democratic response was to assume full fetal position, rail against their leadership, and concede all power to Mitch McConnell. Naturally. I will never understand how Democrats are so eternally willing to consume and internalize Republican propaganda designed to dampen their enthusiasm for their own party.
For everyone who thought witnesses would sway Senate Republicans the reality is that the Democrats were never going to win this vote. There was no way that the Republican Party was going to abandon the goose that lays their orange eggs. Donald Trump is the GOP’s only path to the White House in 2024. But that path is a solitary one. If you poke around the smelly parts of the Internet you will see that Trumpers have no king but Donald. They have no use for senators or representatives or cabinet secretaries. There is a reason that the insurrection mob was searching for bipartisan victims. They were even hunting down Trump’s own kicked dog, Mike Pence. If there were any logic to Trumpism, Pence would be a revered figure, but since he’s not family to Donald Trump, he was expendable too. I communicated that bipartisan bloodlust, along with Trump’s supreme disinterest in keeping Republican legislators alive, to my Republican senator, who voted to acquit Trump anyway. It astounds me that so few Republicans in leadership can see the writing on the wall: Trump will not require a legislature in a second term. He won’t require a Supreme Court either, especially after they rebuffed his last chance election appeals. (There’s another way that the GOP could be gambling wrongly—that Trump could be behind bars in 2023-2024 and thus unable to run for president, but that’s another conversation.)
The House managers never expected to call witnesses, nor, I suspect, did they want to based on the stories that the people they approached refused to testify because they faced death threats from trumpers. Coupled with the roadblocks McConnell would throw into the path, the Senate would have ground to a halt, with nothing happening in the trial, and no regular business moving forward either (remember, one senator can stop the smooth operation of the chamber by refusing to provide unanimous consent and this time the senator was named Mitch McConnell). And this time Mitch overplayed his hand. The Democrats didn’t need witnesses to make their case, and somehow Mitch didn’t recognize that. The Democrats easily traded calling witnesses for putting Representative Herrera Buetler’s statement into the record, and Mitch ended up with nothing. To be sure, he did make sure that the House man agers didn’t introduce evidence that further damned Trump, but that investigation rightly belongs to the Department of Justice and state attorneys general. (And those trials are coming and Bill Barr can’t throttle the flow of facts anymore.)
In the end the smartest thing the Democrats did was the thing that sent liberals into a tizzy: they rejected the witness bait. Because the Republicans lack political deftness, Lindsey Graham showed their hand with his post-vote switch signalling his intention to completely disrupt the process. We already know that the GOP’s most important goals are (1) to damage the Biden administration and (2) to ensure Merrick Garland never takes over the Department of Justice. Saturday morning showed us that the Democrats are never going to give them that satisfaction. Mitch walked away empty-handed.
And, more importantly for congressional Democrats, the American people are not represented by Extremely Online Liberal Twitter. Saturday morning’s events were a background blip for them—they are more interested in COVID-19 relief, and now the Democrats can turn their efforts to something with a potentially huge payoff for them.
(Addendum: As I finished this, Jake Sherman reported that the House Democrats have brought back earmarks. Rank and file Democrats should welcome this news. The Democrats are about to play politics and the Republicans are going to get skunked.)