To start, let me make it clear that it’s abhorrent that the Republicans wouldn’t even allow witness testimony in what is arguably the most important trial in decades.
This is inexcusable and indefensible which, to jump to my conclusion, is the silver lining. Let me explain.
First, we knew before the impeachment trial even began that the Republican-held Senate wasn’t going to convict Trump.
The evidence was overwhelming before the trial started, and yet we either heard support for Trump or crickets from Senators when asked about Ukraine.
On rare occasions a Republican might admit what Trump did was wrong, but it would quickly be followed up with twisted logic on how it wasn’t an impeachable offense.
We were fighting desperately just to get a simple majority to allow witnesses. Getting a 2/3 vote to convict Trump was never going to happen.
Then what was the point of the trial?
The point, for both sides, was to sway public opinion. The Democrats also had to pursue a trial because it was the right thing to do, but they knew it would never end in a conviction.
For Democrats, this was about exposing Trump’s corruption and the Republican’s cowardice and complicity in a cover-up on live TV.
All the Republicans needed to accomplish was to plant small seeds of doubt about the Democrat’s case. They didn’t need overwhelming evidence to support their position.
All they needed were enough soundbites to play to their audiences on Fox News and other propaganda-laced networks like Sinclair.
They were getting that throughout the case thanks to people like Alan Dershowitz spewing nonsense about how Trump can’t be impeached because he was just doing what he thought was best for the public interest.
The bar was already set low for what the Trump defense team had to present to appease their base, and they were achieving that goal.
McConnell’s logic, I surmise, was he needed the trial over as quickly as possible because it was damaging to Trump and his party. Allowing witnesses would have prolonged the trial so he was hard set against having them.
However, if witnesses like Bolton were allowed, would we really learn anything new? At best, we would just get firsthand confirmation that Trump was motivated to hold up aid to Ukraine for political gain. Would this testimony be a game changer? No.
Everybody, including the Republicans, already knew this. They already set themselves up to counter this damning information with Dershowitz’s flawed analysis of what’s impeachable.
Witnesses would just confirm what we already knew and Republicans would just say that the wrongdoing wasn’t impeachable.
If this would have played out with witnesses then the Republicans could at least feign that the trial was fair.
That’s all they needed to accomplish anyway, the illusion of a fair trial to make their base happy and, more importantly, satisfy enough Independents to minimize the political damage especially in purple states where Republican Senators are vulnerable.
By intentionally short-circuiting the process, by not allowing a single witness for the first time in history, McConnell revealed his cards. He showed that the process was rigged by the Republicans in Trump’s favor for all the world to see live.
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, 75% of registered voters wanted witnesses to testify. That breaks down to 95% of Democrats, 49% of Republicans and, most importantly in my view, 75% of Independents. We need those people in the middle to side with the Democrats.
McConnell may have just handed Independents to us for the upcoming elections.
The 2020 election isn’t just about Trump. It’s about winning the Senate as well. I would argue that winning the Senate is even more important than defeating Trump due to the damage that McConnell is doing to our country and our democracy.
With a Democratic-controlled House and Senate we could at least contain the damage done by Trump if he somehow wins a second term.
By not allowing witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial, McConnell has provided us ammunition for future attack ads in swing states which will help us win critical Senate seats.
In fact, Bloomberg already started running ads in Texas that say, “It’s time for the Senate to act and remove Trump from office. And if they won’t do their jobs, this November, you and I will.” Expect to see similar ads from Democrats running for Senate in key states.
McConnell may have won the battle in the impeachment trial, but he may have just given us a boost to win the presidency and the Senate in 2020. If you look at the long game, not having witnesses testify may just help us.
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