You’ve probably now read about Mitch McConnell’s cover-up plan for a Senate impeachment trial. It’s outrageous and Democrats should fight it tooth and nail. But this is an important moment to remember just who is on trial. President Trump is obviously guilty. The President’s trial briefs concede as much — stating baldly the none of the alleged offenses are impeachable even if proven. It’s always been Senate Republicans who are on trial.
We know what Trump did. What remains to be seen is whether Senate Republicans will back his behavior. Monday evening we got a big part of the answer.
When we say that it’s Senate Republicans who are on trial, that’s not just rhetoric or wordplay. It’s the reality and understanding it is a guide to political action.
I’ve already seen a number of statements from Senate Democrats “hoping” that “Republican moderates” will force McConnell to backtrack. This is all wrong, not least because it prospectively credits the good faith of these supposed “moderates” who are in fact operating as McConnell’s foot soldiers in shutting the trial down. In other words, this is vouching for the good faith and good intentions of senators who deserve to be driven from office in November. Start making the case against them right now. If any of them think they are unfairly accused the solution is ready at hand.
For the Democrats making these pleas it demonstrates a painful and demoralizing passivity. In no part of life should we helplessly beg for things we can have no power to effect or gain.
There are half a dozen Republican senators in competitive races. They deserve to be held to account for this abdication of duty. If a guilty defendant goes on the stand and basically shows they are guilty that is not a bad thing. Senate Republicans are on trial and here they are basically testifying against themselves. “They worked with Trump and McConnell to sabotage the trial.”
We know the trial ends in the President’s acquittal. If that is the case the best result is for his defenders and accomplices to reveal as clearly as possible their insistence on covering up for him. So yes, it’s bad. Yes, it’s a disgrace. Yes, Democrats should fight it. But mainly it’s a vindication of what Democrats have been saying for years. Don’t beg. Keep the receipts and hold these men and women to account in November. Indeed hold them to account now so it matters in November.