We don’t know how the final vote will go in Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. But this trial was never really about getting a conviction. It was about educating the public on Trump’s criminal liability for the U.S. Capitol domestic terrorist attack, and boxing in Senate Republicans such that if they refuse to convict him, it’ll come back to bite them in the 2022 midterms.
Given how compelling and impactful of a case the impeachment managers have made these past two days, and how inept Trump’s defense lawyers are, the Democrats have already won the trial. The public will come away from this trial more broadly convinced that Trump must stand criminal trial, and Trump’s approval rating will be lower than ever, thus ensuring he isn’t somehow magically going to be a 2024 contender. But there are a number of remaining questions regarding the impeachment trial:
1) Will Trump’s lawyers screw up his defense so badly over these next two days that it ends up helping the Democrats even more, or will Trump’s lawyers simply try to be low-key and avoid harming him even further?
2) Will any Senate Republicans vote to convict Trump? Six of them voted this week that the trial was constitutional. Will all six of them vote to convict? Will the overwhelmingly effective prosecution convince any additional Senate Republicans that they’re backing themselves into a reelection corner if they acquit him?
3) Fifteen Republican Senators are now skipping out on the trial altogether. Will they also skip the final vote, thus opening the door to a lower threshold for conviction?
4) Will we continue to hear nothing at all from Donald Trump? He doesn’t have social media anymore, but there are cable TV propaganda channels that would put him on the air if he called in. And there are mainstream media reporters who are still willing to tweet whatever statements he issues to them. Yet he really has sat this trial out. He seems to have given up on public life entirely.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report