In a vote that surprises no one, the Senate has decided in a 56 to 44 split that trying Donald Trump, a president no longer in office, is within the bounds of the Constitution. Just six Republicans sided with the Democrats, which indicates the likely result of the final verdict.
The GOP senators who decided that the proceedings should continue were Ben Sasse (NE), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Bill Cassidy (LA), Mitt Romney (UT), and Pat Toomey (PA). These choices match up almost perfectly with the point-of-order vote brought to the floor by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) two weeks ago.
Bracing for Strategies
Beginning tomorrow, February 10, both sides will present their cases. Trump’s defense team will focus on just one or two aspects: The first is that the whole trial is unconstitutional and that the Senate has no right to convict. The second is likely that the president’s words on Jan. 6 did not constitute incitement. Democrat impeachment managers will argue that Trump’s long history of fiery rhetoric led to the events in the Capitol.
The fact is, it seems both sides will be preaching to their own choir.
The Republicans who voted against this being a constitutional act will likely not change their vote, and Democrats are almost certain not to change their minds regardless of the evidence presented. Which raises one significant question: Why bother continuing?
Trial as Punishment
With the final result an almost foregone conclusion, this show trial will be more about trying to humiliate Trump and reward the activist media with two weeks’ worth of rich content. But there also will be long-term effects. Should Trump decide to run for office in the future, the American public should brace itself for a rehash of the whole trial in full slo-mo.
The media have spent the last week bringing in every possible talking head and has-been to insist that the trial is constitutional. When it is all over, expect to see the phrases “despite numerous scholars,” “even though legal experts,” and the like filling the airwaves.
This is no longer about law and order — it is about bread and circuses.