Will There Be a Trial at All?

There is still an open question whether Senate Republicans will hold a real trial after they receive the inevitable articles of impeachment.  Greg Sargent writes, ‘The Post has the latest on McConnell’s scheming: Republican senators are ‘coalescing’ behind a quick impeachment trial that would call no witnesses and result in a quick acquittal vote.”

Basically, the plan is that the Senate would set aside just a few days for the House impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers to present their arguments, and then the Senate would vote to acquit. No testimony from witnesses would be allowed. Over and done. This is not how impeachment trials have been conducted in the past.

There may be some wrinkles in this plan. One is that Trump himself wants a big spectable with lots of witnesses.

Trump’s desired witness list includes House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint about the president’s conversations with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky led to the House impeachment inquiry.

Mitch McConnell doesn’t want to do this, because if Trump is allowed to call witnesses they might have to let Democrats call witnesses also.

At a Senate GOP luncheon this week, McConnell warned his colleagues against calling witnesses. “Mutually assured destruction,” he said, according to a Republican in the room.

McConnell is not sure Republicans have enough votes to only call Trump’s preferred list, the person said. Any agreement to call a witness would require 51 votes, and if Democratic votes were needed to end an impasse among Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) would demand his own list of witnesses as part of any compromise.

Under McConnell’s thinking, this could possibly mean calling Vice President Pence and top White House aides, such as acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, to testify.

The Constitution says that Chief Justice John Roberts is to preside over the trial, and precedent set in the Andrew Johnson trial, and followed in the Bill Clinton trial, says that Roberts would preside in the fullest sense of the word, as any judge would preside over a criminal trial. It seems to me that Roberts could upend everybody’s plans if he wants to. And he could compel the testimony of people like Mulvaney and Bolton. He may not want to, of course.

But precedent says Roberts is to be sworn in as the judge as soon as articles of impeachment are passed by the full House. Watch to see if that happens.

Back to Greg Sargent:

Obviously, if those witnesses confirmed in some way that Trump personally and explicitly discussed the military aid extortion plot with them, it would be even more devastating than what has already been established.

It’s true that we don’t know what those witnesses would say. But the rub is that Republicans don’t want to find out. And their reasoning has been laid bare for all to see: They are determined to acquit Trump no matter how incredibly damning such testimony might be, so they may as well spare themselves the political hardship that such testimony might inflict on them.

Of course, there’s also the outside risk that such testimony might make it impossible for a handful of GOP senators to vote to acquit Trump. Such a break must also be averted at all costs.

Greg Sargent also says it’s not certain that McConnell has 51 votes for his sham trial plan.

As this analysis by Perry Bacon Jr. shows, senators such as Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski want to maintain the appearance of principled independence from Trump. Meanwhile, Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Martha McSally and Joni Ernst will feel pressure to appear to take evidence seriously to survive reelection.

And a Democratic aide points out to me that, if McConnell doesn’t have 51 votes for procedural gimmickry allowing Trump to skate, that will allow Democrats to try to assemble a majority in the Senate for sounder procedures.

Of course, if there are witnesses who testify that Trump did everything he is accused of doing, the Republicans will just pretend the witnesses said something else, as they’ve been doing with the IG report on the FBI’s probe into Trump’s 2016 campaign. Still, a real trial would be reassuring. If we don’t even get that, the Constitution is broken.

18 thoughts on “Will There Be a Trial at All?

  1. It they think they are that strong let it be.  THEY ARE NOT!  

    They back a con artist and they know it.  

    They exploit the gullible and they know it.

    If they win we let losers win. 


    Not by party affiliation but because we know better as a country.  

    Sorry guys but it's time to put up or shut up.  

    And that demented world embarrassment you support needs to shut up. 


    Pardon my shouting.  That I have to shout sense and sanity at my age to America is total nonsense.  Even Republicans should know better.  God knows I've had to put up with a red state fair share of them.  Thank God I do not have to labor for them one more day of my life and I pity the ones that are loyal to the Republican party.  Take a fiddle and watch it burn.  The only way we know Niro was stupid is by hindsight.  We might only know how stupid we are now in a nanosecond. and be just one barren lifeless planet  among a universe full of them.  Who will make Republicans responsible citizens then?

    It could just be that moment in history when homo sapiens went south, and there will be not one to read warnings and no future for history of this planet itself.  Well we have tried to transition from evolution to intelligent life.  This we do without guarantee.  We are just damn lucky we got to where we are.  We are now arrogant, cocky, and pressing our luck. We are trying to lead the world with stupid. 

  2. Gomert is channeling Roosevelt by declaring that today is a day that will live in infamy. He such an asswipe and hayseed that it makes you wonder.

  3. I console myself with: even if Trump is acquitted (probably), and even if he wins again in 2020 (would not be surprised), there is a massive and growing demographic wave of young people who have had enough of right wing nonsense ("exvangelicals" is a thing). The country may be completely trashed by then, and it probably has to be burnt to the ground for this to happen (I am not too impressed with this ancient Constitution), but enough is enough. 

  4. I listened to some of the Committee Hearings yesterday, while driving around.  The Democrats were mostly disappointing, but the Republicans were uniformly infuriating.  I had to change channels to avoid crashing my car (hard to control vehicle if head explodes).  I missed some details, but it sounded like the GOP had was attempting to amend the bill to impeach Hunter Biden instead of Chump.

    Why are Republicans so much better at political theater than the Democrats???

    • Elkern, is this because they play emotional intensity over appeals to reason?  They sure do over emote.  It makes opera look stayed.  

  5. Mitch has announced his plan to have the jury work with the defense counsel to ensure acquittal. The oath he takes will be a lie.

    Complete dictatorship. Bloomberg why don't you use your resources to flip the senate and a bunch of state legislatures while you're at it.

  6. The Son of Perdition is going to be impeached. There are no big surprises there, it wasn't hard to see the end from the beginning. What other possible outcome could one expect of a person who is so thoroughly corrupt in every aspect of their character?

    Its good to see that Trump is putting on a happy face and counting it all a blessings. After all, it's increased his reelection prospects exponentially, insuring a landslide victory in 2020. He claims his poll numbers are up like, "through the roof" and like people have never seen before. Who knows, perhaps with the help of some of his top notch legal wranglers he can negotiate some sort of a non disclosure agreement where the stain of his impeachment will be hidden from the historical record. 

     Anyway, I'm comforted in the knowledge that regardless of what the ultimate outcome of all this turmoil turns out to be, Trump's impeachment will follow him to the grave and beyond simply because corruption cannot beget honor.

     It's sorta like the Zales Jewelers advertisement where they say,  Diamonds Are Forever…Well, so is impeachment.

  7. So Moscow Mitch has promised to work in lockstep with White House lawyers, which is an open declaration that he intends to cheat and defy the Constitution. That's consistent with both Trumpism and his nickname. Moscow Mitch is the recipient of $1 million to his campaign fund from an oligarch shareholder in Rusal, the Russian company that can build an aluminum plant in Kentucky because McConnell blocked sanctions against them. He also strengthened his Rooski oligarch cred by blocking legislation to strengthen U.S. election security.

    Of course Vlad Fanboy Trump received help with the 2016 election from Russian Intelligence and has a slavish devotion to Putin. He apparently also has his own dreams of being an oligarchic dictator.

    Those facts prove a pattern that's difficult to ignore. If Republicans do ignore them it will prove they are completely cynical and bankrupt both ethically and patriotically.


  8. An impeachment is coming!, an impeachment is coming! I know its not a cause for joy, but… what can you do? Be true to thine self?

     Personally if I was decreed a certified racist by congressional resolution and than impeached by the House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress; I think I would take the time to reflect inward to see if I was doing something wrong, And then maybe take corrective measures to rehabilitate the deficiencies of moral character that others see in me. But that's just me.

  9. Swami,

    That is you.

    tRUMP, on top of his other million bad points, has no sense of decency or honor.

    He is a venal maggot.

    Make that – IT is a venal maggot. *

    I know it's bad and dangerous to dehumanize someone.  But that assumes that there's some humanity there to "de!"


    *No insult to maggots intended!  They, unlike tRUMP, at least have useful function!

  10. Magats are maggots. They feed on efluvia. I'm not just being crude. Trump is evil because he brings out the evil in others. It is his ability to arouse other's evil and Marshall it for himself that is such a danger.

  11. Aj,


    Obama tried to bring out "the better angels of our nature."

    tRUMP tries to find an angle to fool people into tapping the worst devils in their heart's.

    Talk about diametric opposites!

  12. If the Senate is only going to have a Whitehouse approved sham , then Pelosi shouldn't send it over. Wait 6 months and impeach him again. There's no shortage of crimes to choose from. Keep impeaching him over and over.

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