Why Republicans should drag out Trump's Senate trial
Give Democrats what they asked for
If Nancy Pelosi's recent comments are any indication, it is likely that President Trump will be impeached by the House of Representatives before the end of the month. We all know what is going to happen next: his impeachment will be taken up by the GOP Senate and the president will be acquitted.
What we don't know at the moment is when exactly the second part is going to happen. After enduring months of self-important pontificating and procedural skullduggery at the hands of their Democratic colleagues, House Republicans want payback. This would involve, among other things, subpoenaing the phone records of Adam Schiff, the Democratic intelligence committee chairman whose handling of the complaint from the so-called "whistleblower" looks very much like a coordinated media stunt. It would also mean forcing both Joe and Hunter Biden to testify and subjecting thousands of journalists to endless hours of bloviation from pro-Trump witnesses. This festival of innocence could easily go on for two or three months before the inevitable verdict is announced.
This does not seem to be what most senators of either party have in mind. After all, the calendar for early next year is pretty packed. In January, Trump will be expected to give the final state of the union address of his first term (if not his presidency), and right after that we have the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. If a Senate trial is still going on, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet (who I'm told is still in the race) won't be able to get out there on the campaign trail.
Darn? I am trying to figure out exactly why making a mess of the 2020 Democratic primary season would be a bad idea for Trump and his allies. Look, they can argue, we're really sorry that half of you can't even be on the campaign trail right now, but you all supported this proceeding and now we want to see it through till the end. We need to hear from the widest possible number of witnesses and weigh all the available evidence. The charges made against the president are very grave indeed. Why in the world would we rush a process upon which the very survival of the American republic depends? The speeches write themselves.
Why don't Republicans support this approach? Not everyone has Jim Jordan's inexhaustible appetite for punishing his enemies. And the end result — acquittal — is going to be the same regardless of whether the trial lasts two weeks or two months. Wouldn't it be better to clear the president's name and move on to serious business, like, well, whatever it is that Congress has spent the last year not doing?
I don't think so. Democrats insisted on impeaching Trump upon any available pretext — let's not pretend that this started with Ukraine — this close to a presidential election. They themselves have invited all the outrage from voters who will not see the point of Congress determining the fate of a man whose fitness for office they themselves will be deciding in November. The pettiness and cynicism of what both the president and the lawyer for the whistleblower call "the coup" is the best thing Republicans will have going for them in 2020. It would be foolish not to press their advantage here.
Instead of a bare-bones trial that quickly establishes Trump's innocence, Mitch McConnell should hold a three-month-long exoneration on Democrats' watch. If they didn't want this, they shouldn't have started it.
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