Adam Schiff and the House Managers are mounting a brilliant, thorough, and valiant effort to communicate the crimes against the Constitution alleged in the Articles of Impeachment.
Nonetheless, it appears to be becoming less and less likely that there will be a repeat of the turnaround that occurred during the lead up to a potential Nixon impeachment resulting in Barry Goldwater and several other Republican senators going to the White House to tell Nixon that he had to go because they only had five or so votes against impeachment and removal to back him up in the Senate.
Reading between the lines, from Senator Lisa Murkowski expressing indignation at Representative Jerrold Nadler’s daring to suggest that lawmakers were acquiescing to a cover up, yet expressing no such indignation about the abuses of power alleged in the Articles nor about his myriad other violations of the Constitution having to do with ethics and corruption, to Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina referring to the impeachment as a “sham” yesterday after having previously been seen as a potential vote for witnesses, to Senator Martha McSally, another Senator up for re-election and quite vulnerable, calling an excellent reporter, Manu Raju, a “liberal hack”, there appear to be signs all around that the Republican Party of today will be impervious to the brilliant and thoroughly organized multimedia case put on by the House Managers.
For this reason, it is time to take a step back, look at the larger picture, and engage in some serious political triage; the Democrats are in danger of stepping directly into a trap.
What do I mean?
The House Managers are understandably fighting hard to find four Republican votes in order to subpoena witnesses and documents. There is one problem. After initially fighting for clarity on which witnesses and documents they would be able to bring in, and after correctly pointing out that a real trial features witnesses that are subpoenaed in AFTER being informed by a discovery process that includes documents, and after Schiff rightly pointed out that it is absurd to ask the prosecutors to put on their case first BEFORE putting on all of their evidence, the House Managers lost this crucial initial vote on procedure.
As a consequence, ever since, the Democrats have been left fighting in a McConnell-designed frame and on Republican turf.
Specifically, they’re talking about negotiating simply to be able to subpoena a few key witnesses, all of whom are from the Administration itself, and all of whom are to one degree or another very risky indeed – and all of this with no realistic chance of obtaining removal even were the witnesses to be allowed.
So what is the solution?
Politically, the only solution that is realistic (realistic in the sense of being politically possible to turn all of this into the political loss to Trump that would be aporopriate), is for the House Managers to now put forth two motions: one that would give them the right to call any and all witnesses and subpoena any and all documents that they choose; and secondly one that radically alters the original resolution that Majority leader Mitch McConnell rammed through limiting the time of this proceeding, replacing that resolution with one that puts no time limit on the trial.
If both – not one, but both – of those motions are not adopted by the Senate, the House Managers should walk out and refuse to participate in a sham trial.
Why? Because we need to not lose sight of the fact that by adopting the original resolution, the Republican majority showed its hand: there is no way that they intend to allow a fair trial, a true trial, or, as Schiff himself said, an ACTUAL trial in any way similar to the previous impeachment proceedings over the past 240 years of American history, to take place.
Anything short of this, is an acquiescence to a sham.
And acquiescing to this sham is exactly what the Democrats are about to do should they continue on their current trajectory. This will result in only one possible outcome: the Democratic House Managers, while absolutely brilliant in the execution of their case within the current sham parameters, will nonetheless play right into the hands of Donald Trump by lending legitimacy, making a ‘trial’ with a witness or two seem just fair enough to the average American prior to an acquittal. This will disastrously lend some credence, however false, to his inevitable crowing over the next ten months that he has been exonerated.
This would be political malpractice, since it would amount to the Democrats allowing themselves to be used to provide Trump the only means possible to pull a out a fake ‘victory’ to display to his cult.
The Democratic House Managers owe it to us, the American people, and the United States Constitution, not to do this. This week, by denying the House Managers adequate discovery, 53 Senate Republicans made their choice: they have prevented a fair trial thereby actively participating in a cover up. The parameters and procedure are now explicitly not fair.
If a radical change to a real, full trial with real evidence does not happen, don’t beg four Senate Republicans to give us our own noose.