Jerry Nadler, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to Donald Trump asking if he would participate in the impeachment proceedings. A simple question, yes, but a powerplay nonetheless.
Regardless of Trump’s answer, it won’t amount to good optics for him. If Trump says no, which I suspect he will, then it’ll look like he’s hiding something. If Trump says no and then participates anyway, it’ll look like he was pressured to do it because of bad optics. Conversely, if Trump says yes and backs down, he’ll look weak. If Trump says yes and actually participates, he’ll either equivocate and look guilty or he’ll shove his foot in his mouth and say all kinds of nonsense. It’s a lose-lose-lose-lose-lose for Trump, and it’s his choice what degree of loss he’s willing to take.
Nadler’s invitation to Trump is an opportunity for Trump to defend himself in front of America in an official way. Many Americans are still all-in on Trump in spite of, or perhaps because of, everything he’s done and everything that’s happened to him — but seeing their guy on TV have to defend himself in front of the House of Representatives could really help put things in perspective.
Think about it: Trump and/or his lawyers go in front of the nation to explain how he isn’t a crook despite mountains of evidence. It’ll make them look small, and worse yet for a Trump voter, weak, and that’s the biggest deal here yet. All of this, however, depends on how the Democrats decide to go forward.
If the Democrats are as savvy as I hope they are, they’ll spin Trump’s decision to decline participation in the hearings or his half-baked performance if does participate as a sign of incredible weakness. I suspect this was something Nadler and the crew foresaw when they decided to invite Trump. They can get a lot of play out of Trump’s move here, and I hope they go for it. Trump cashes in on his strong-man image. His voters eat it up more than anything else about him. Trump looking weak could really set him back, and be a great step forward in paving the way for his impeachment.