I’ve said many times that it’s the Republican Senate rather than Donald Trump who is on trial in this exercise. That seems confirmed by everything we’ve seen so far. Nothing we’ve learned from Lev Parnas or John Bolton in recent days adds anything material to what we know about President Trump’s actions. Yes, we have an even higher level of proof or confirmation. But when a fact is already obvious and indisputable it’s pretty hard to prove it more.
What we have seen is more and more evidence or at least a clearer and clearer illustration of what Senate Republicans will accept from President Trump. No real trial. No witnesses. Open arguments that using state power to coerce foreign leaders to sabotage U.S. elections is fine and indeed proper.
To my mind, Democrats have done a good job on this.
Their job hasn’t been to remove the President from office because Senate Republicans have made clear they are inflexibly opposed to removing Trump from office literally no matter what he does. What the Impeachment Managers can do and I think have done a decent job of is to make the extent of that commitment and its implications absolutely as clear as possible. That to me is clearly what we’ve seen.
There’s always a strong tendency to take consistent and insistent misbehavior as a baseline. It’s presumed and people look for someone else to blame. So isn’t it Democrats’ fault that Republicans have decided that they will back Donald Trump absolutely no matter what he does?
We already see efforts to do just this and paint this as some kind of Democratic failure. Here is CNN’s Dana Bash from a few moments ago asking Sen. Amy Klobuchar if there wasn’t something Democrats could have done differently to convince Republicans to allow witnesses.
A preview of the questions we're likely to see from DC press about outcome of trial. pic.twitter.com/4A5xvlH3tm
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 30, 2020
Setting aside this nonsense, in recent days I’ve been most struck by the necessity for people to steel themselves — and I think about steeling myself — to the fact that none of this is going to be fixed in a day or a month or frankly many years.
I continue to think it is more likely than not that President Trump will be defeated for reelection later this year. But that is far from a certainty, indeed his odds seems to have mildly improved in recent months. We’re filled with predictions about how our democratic story is basically over if that happens. Or that all his wrongdoing and corruption will be essentially vindicated and confirmed by his reelection, making a whole new level of corruption and law-breaking inevitable. It’s hard for me to make much of an argument against either claim. But the reality is that if it happens all of us who care about this country and its future will wake up the next morning with a lot of work in front of us and need to get down to doing it. We can say now that will mean there’s no going back. But we’ll wake up the next morning and have to decide whether we still want to try to go back. I will. I assume you will too.
But even if Trump is not reelected we will still have the very same people now helping to finalize Trump’s cover up either running the Senate or in sufficient numbers to block its action if they don’t get their way. We’ll have a judiciary that has been stacked over the last three years to perpetuate GOP political rule.
There’s no simple turning back the clock. Trump is much less the issue than the political environment in which he has thrived. He might be booted next year but the climate and bases of support that made him possible won’t have gone anywhere.
I know this all sounds like kind of a downer. It’s not meant that way. It’s simply to note that perseverance is one of our most necessary, basic, indeed essential tools.