Democrats Should Scream And Shout But Maybe Not Try To Extend Trump Trial Any Further

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presides over question and answer part of Senate trial. Curiously (or maybe not) most of the questions were directed at the allies, not opposition of those asking them, so they weren’t really questions at all. Instead they functioned as openings for House Managers and White House lawyers to rebut opposing views, and drive home remarks they’d already made.

Bringing on witnesses, a process that could drag on for weeks or more, might very well damage Democrats. Then again, why are Republicans fighting it so hard?

We’d love to see John Bolton testify, but we’ve already substantively heard from him. That’s not going away. Do we need to hear more? Yes, probably, that would be great. If he has the courage, he should just stand up on his own and speak out. But the moment for that may have passed. The White House seems compelled to force him to clam up. Trump may be in the process of tying up Bolton in one of his “perfect” Catch-22s: that anybody who previously testified with second hand information is not to be trusted, yet any information offered by first hand sources (like Bolton) is “Classified National Security”.

Still, it’s hard to argue against giving the American people the fullest picture possible. In a way, that should go without saying, and without controversy.

But these are hyper-partisan times in which we’re living. And Bolton’s words have already had an undeniable impact. Despite attempts by the President’s lawyers to ignore, and then discredit what he’s apparently got to say. And now to challenge if he has the right to say it in the first place if the President doesn’t want him to.

And Trump’s strategy of litigating the hell out of this and everything else is something we don’t believe–in this case–the American public has the patience and attention span to wait out without getting antsy and irritated. Not only at the President, but maybe even more at the people who brought the charges in the first place. Who can then be accused of doing nothing except for partisan horsesh*t. Which of course is just the point of Trump’s tried-and-true tactic.

And we’re sure we’ll hear more damaging stuff to Trump anyway from more people as days go by. The pattern of Trump’s gang-boss like behavior is no longer deniable. This impeachment and trial, and all its trimmings, have firmly established that.

That does not mean however Republicans in the Senate will ever muster the large number of votes needed to convict Trump. Pretty assuredly, they will not. Based on questions we heard Wednesday from so-called “moderate” Republicans, seems they might be willing to embrace a “mixed motive” to let the President slide. That is, if the President was acting partly in the national interest, even if he at the same time was doing something for his own personal benefit, it’d be OK.

Trump attorney Alan Dershowitz took it one step further: arguing so long as the President believes he is doing his best for the interests of the country—which would include believing that it’s in the country’s interests for him to be re-elected—then there’s virtually nothing he can do that can be considered wrong enough for him to be impeached.

The smaller hurdle (a simple majority vs. 2/3rds of the Senate) to hear witnesses–even Bolton–seems less and less likely. As we’ve previously observed, Republican resolve seems to harden every time Democrats are able to move their case unmistakably forward.

But even if the dam built by Republicans in the Senate holds, the floodgates are open now.

Yet anything that drags things out is likely hang badly on Democrats. Whereas ending it now would credibly smack of coverup by Republicans.

How would you want to be perceived headed into fall elections that will determine control of the House, Senate, and the Presidency?

Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s process for Senators potentially hearing witnesses would involve them doing closed-door depositions before they testify in public. This is not unusual. Lawyers at a trial never want to question witnesses unless they already know what they’re going to say. But it’s time-consuming. And that’s assuming the Senate gets past the hurdle McConnell included of having a vote just on the blanket topic of hearing witnesses, without any specifics as to whom may be called.

The Democratic Impeachment Managers have done a masterful and credible job (with fortuitous boosts from Parnas, Bolton, et. al.), forcefully presenting their side of the argument. Better, we think, than pretty much anybody thought they would. Trump’s lawyers have not countered with anything close to equally viable counter-arguments. Most glaringly, they barely challenged the actual charges against Trump. Or anything damning (like Bolton) that came up mid-stream. Instead mainly focusing on a contention that the office of the President would be forever damaged if Trump is removed. We heard a lot of “even if it’s true” in their arguments. So never mind what he did.

And, as we’ve asserted before, we don’t believe that putting a Biden up as a witness as some kind of counter-balance will make much of a difference at all. Trump’s going to slam Biden & Son regardless.

Hey, even we’re having a hard time convincing ourselves of what we’re advocating today. Maybe the American people are entitled to the full damn picture at all costs. Maybe this is one time political considerations should not be at the forefront. And maybe a miracle will happen and people will start behaving in righteous ways we don’t expect. But most likely not.

And it’s crucially important that Democrats keep swinging: saying what they’re going to say, doing what they’re going to do. They don’t really have any say in what happens from now anyway. But they can’t been seen as giving up. All we’re saying is that they might be a little wary of getting what they’re publicly wishing for, and it might even turn out to be more of a plus for them if they don’t. (Short of the President being removed, of course.)

And Democrats extricating themselves at what looks like a high point for their case, might be the best visible outcome given what’s at stake. (Still, we kinda want to hear witnesses!)