Two weeks of history came to something of a head on Friday. The Senate Impeachment trial, while a coverup orchestrated by the Republican Party, is also a historic attempt by American patriots to begin the process of fixing a corrupted executive branch before irreparable damage is done. Lead House Manager Adam Schiff began by explaining the seriousness of the charges against Donald Trump.
And then a quick reminder of how Sen. Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican party has hamstrung this essential Democratic process,
House Manager Jerrold Nadler from New York spoke on the Senate floor on Thursday, and brought some receipts. First the fact that the evidence is overwhelming.
And then a relentless barrage of video showing that the conservatives arguing on Trump’s behalf, with names like Alan Dershowitz and Lindsey Graham, arguing the absolute opposite just a few years ago.
One of the most glaring realities of the “perfect” phone call, and subsequent statements about Trump’s personal interest in getting an investigation started into the Bidens is the fact that he didn’t care if there were actual investigations into corruption … just the perception of investigations.
Schiff came back and delivered what many called an “historic” 30-minute closing argument to end day two of the Senate Impeachment trial. The final eight minutes included a powerfully stark reminder of what is at stake.
On Friday, House Manager Hakeem Jeffries once again reminded the world that this is not a partisan process—at least it is not supposed to be one.
On Saturday, the Republican Party—who has made this a thoroughly partisan procedure—had their chance to begin the defense of Donald Trump. As all the president’s men began their disinformation campaign to muddy the waters with conspiracy theories, news began circulating of an almost 90-minute long audio tape purportedly secretly recorded by Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas. Highlights included Trump angrily saying he wanted people to “get rid of” then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Besides the myriad questions this should bring to anyone’s mind didn’t seem to faze Republican lawmakers: 1) Does Donald Trump not realize he has the right, as president, to replace her, and if he does 2) What was he suggesting be done with Yovanovitch, and 3) What kind of crap national security is being run if any dubious character can record the president secretly for almost 90 minutes?
On Sunday, news came out that former Ambassador John Bolton’s new memoir would feature smoking gun statements of Trump’s guilt in the Ukraine affair. Calls for witness testimony were reinvigorated. It would seem that allowing for such testimony as Bolton’s would be a fait accompli but, with the republic under fire from inside, there is nothing we can take for granted.
This, of course, was followed by the deafening silence of Republican officials, and vitriol on Twitter from the the chief executive of our country. On Monday, all the president’s men went back to their posts to defend the indefensible. This might have to do with their fear of their fearful leader. Who is more cowardly, the coward or the cowards afraid of him? And while they went to work, trying to figure out what to do about the John Bolton-sized elephant in the room, the Trump defense spewed lie after lie after lie.
Oops. Sorry, that’s a different Republican Senator clearly from an alternate reality.
It is hard to sum up how outrageous the Trump-defense presentation on Monday was.
A considerable amount of Monday’s “defense” was dedicated to figuring out ways to use old-fashioned phraseology that could be succinctly grabbed for headlines. Words like “poppycock” provided the deepest defense Trump’s team had to offer. The day ended with a promise of one thing, though.
To place you in time, Monday also included Iowa Sen. Jodi Ernst embarrassing herself in remarkable fashion.
By Tuesday it became more and more clear that the leaked John Bolton manuscript was becoming too hard to control and witnesses would likely need to be called in to testify. However, the plan for Republican leadership at this point was how best to hide testimony from the public, so that the rightwing propaganda machine could more easily lie about the framing and characterization of said testimonies. The summary of Trump’s defense by the end of Tuesday was best summarized by Steve Vladeck.
By the end of Tuesday, Republican Majority Leader McConnell had brought fellow GOP senators into his lair for a closed-door session, to discuss whether or not they had the votes to stop witnesses from actually being called during this “trial.” Reports from numerous media outlets contradicted one another, with the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post reporting that McConnell did not have the votes secured to stop something resembling a real impeachment trial from breaking out, while Politico and The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman saying he did.
By Wednesday morning, it seemed that the Republican Party was exactly where they’ve always been—inside of Donald Trump’s pocket. The White House, after telling everybody that John Bolton’s memoir meant nothing, decided to threaten legal action against Bolton and his publisher. Republican leadership sent out the new day’s talking points which consisted of admitting that Donald Trump did indeed hold up money in order to force Ukraine to publicly “investigate” a political rival, but … so what? “#WeWantWitnesses” went viral as protestors descended upon our nation’s capital.
And then the questions began:
Sens. Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz thought they were able to put together a real stumper, using the old Obama whataboutism.
Trump attorney Dershowitz took the fragments of what was left of his career and integrity and flushed them down the drain of history, by arguing that a president couldn’t be impeached for crimes, because his belief in himself as being awesome made it not a crime. The law scholar he repeatedly cited during this extraordinary argument went on television and also wrote an op-ed in The New York Times to say that Alan Dershowitz was as full of shit as you suspected him to be.
Meanwhile, news broke that Chief Justice Roberts had denied Republicans from outing the “whistleblower,” in the most cowardly fashion available to them: by getting Chief Justice Roberts to read their name as one of the submitted questions. Chief coward amongst them, Sen. Rand Paul.
Lead Manager Schiff presented the Joseph Heller-level Catch-22 breaking news story of Trump’s Department of Justice, arguing in federal court—resisting subpoenas—that a president can’t be impeached by the House if they cannot be in court to fight for subpoenas … because they are in the Senate making their case for impeachment. “You can’t make this stuff up.”
And sadly, none of us have made any of this up. It’s just the lazy writing of corruption and cowardice and incompetence. Americans rolled out of their beds on Friday to news that Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Lamar Alexander, and Cory Gardner—all possible swing votes—were all in agreement that there was no such thing as crime. Just as Donald Trump’s new favorite lawyer Alan Dershowitz instructed. The rest of the day was filled with the bad, illogical theater one has come to expect from this Republican Party. Sen. Murkowski voted against new witnesses and new evidence, even with Bolton revelation after Bolton revelation getting leaked to the public. Her statement on the matter should truly disabuse anyone of the belief that Lisa Murkowski is anything but a corrupt tool of a politician, with zero ethical convictions whatsoever.
#RIPAmerica began trending on Twitter.
And the cowards we have come to know under Donald Trump continued to fly their bright yellow colors.
The Republican Party made their decision clear. Our democracy means far less to them than the promise of short-term power. As Friday wore down, we were left with murmurs of amendments and promises of votes to come.
In the end, this was the takeaway for next week, when the United States Senate, led by the Republican Party, decide to set the precedent that a president can be corrupt as long as he—and they are definitely talking about a man—thinks it is in his best interests to be corrupt.
But before the very end of Friday, Republican Senators all stepped up to write the first line of their obituaries, voting to nix witnesses and to block five amendments Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put up.
Commiserate below in the comments. If you feel up to it.