Democrats have boxed themselves into a corner with an impeachment crusade they commenced the day Donald Trump was inaugurated – or even before. As the “impeachment inquiry” nears its climax over these holidays, Republicans in the Senate should be licking their chops at the opportunity standing before them, while Democrats should be afraid. Very afraid.
Trump’s opponents have shot their load with the hearings and now stand on the precipice of a fateful decision on whether to actually impeach this president. While Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) still has escape valves – foremost among them a censure instead of an impeachment, thus avoiding a Senate trial – there are few indications that the Democrats plan to back down. They apparently believe, and for good reason, that backtracking now, after their endless march of anti-Trump sound and fury, will make them look weak and ineffectual.
On the other side of the aisle, far from feeling weighed down by the prospect of defending Trump’s free-wheeling politics of international diplomacy, this impeachment obsession has liberated Republican leaders to step up and defend a president whose popularity in the GOP has actually risen during the impeachment process. But it goes well beyond that. Trump and his allies have been forced to absorb relentless, scurrilous attacks and spectacular, unsubstantiated allegations as long as the president has occupied the Oval Office, and a prospective Senate trial will provide them the perfect platform to seek their well-earned revenge. Just imagine the witnesses they could call, and their chance to explore substantiated narratives left unexplored by the left’s handmaidens in the media. And importantly, much of what they can expose, we already know.
A Large Menu
No further investigation is required to know that Joe Biden’s son Hunter profited from his father’s position to the tune of millions of dollars from his Ukrainian benefactors, despite having no credentials. We know the former vice president arranged the firing of the prosecutor investigating the corrupt company which lined his son’s pockets. We also know Ukrainian officials dug up dirt leading to the prosecution of Trump aide Paul Manafort, and that they made public statements condemning Trump during the 2016 campaign.
We have long been aware that the Obama Justice Department and intelligence officials surveilled the Trump campaign. We have seen the breathtakingly hateful messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page about Trump and the “insurance policy” to make certain Trump would never get elected. We know from multiple hearings and sources that James Comey, John Brennan, James Clapper, et al. were willing to take extraordinary measures to stop Trump from winning the election, and prevent his fledgling administration from gaining traction. This line of inquiry would be particularly attractive for the GOP with news that the Justice Department Inspector General is scheduled to release his report on FISA abuse by Obama’s FBI on Dec. 9. Though the report may not reach truly damning conclusions, it will provide a teachable moment for the electorate, and an ideal confluence of events for the GOP. The full picture on surveillance of the Trump campaign will come later with the results of the investigation by Attorney General William Barr and lead investigator John Durham.
Then, of course, there is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the House Democrats who finally pulled the trigger on impeachment after threatening to do so for years. Schiff, who is still gagging on his words of assurance that he had proof of Trump-Russia collusion, and who concluded the two-week-long impeachment hearings with an impassioned soliloquy on how Trump’s crimes are worse than those which forced the resignation of Richard Nixon, has left himself wide open to being called as a witness in the Senate trial.
How would Schiff explain away the fact that the infamous whistleblower, whose identity Schiff unconvincingly claimed not to know, kicked off the complaint process by contacting Schiff’s office? And how about the relationship between the suspected (but widely known) whistleblower and the Democratic Party, including Joe Biden? These established ties suggest a politically motivated charge from a deep state operative frustrated over his growing irrelevance, to the point of trying to take down a sitting president.
A Buffet of Possibilities
All of this is not to say that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and their fellow Republican senators will necessarily pursue all of these paths of inquiry, but rather that they possess a virtual smorgasbord of potent narratives from which to choose.
McConnell could choose to drag the trial out for maximum unmasking of the Democrats’ treasure trove of indiscretions. This would give him the added benefit of taking five Democratic senators running for president (Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker) off the campaign trail while they serve as jurors, and likely damaging their candidacies. But McConnell could also opt for a truncated trial and a quick verdict to avoid looking overly political and to magnify Trump’s inevitable exoneration.
Any way you cut it, the political possibilities presented to Republicans in a Senate trial are deliciously tempting. It is now just a matter of waiting for Democrats to do the deed on impeachment, and then determining which among this embarrassment of scandalous riches they choose to present to voters preparing to cast their ballots in less than one year.
Read more from Tim Donner.