In what amounts to at least his fifth publicly stated iteration of his Senate impeachment trial strategy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that he’s going to coordinate with the White House Counsel to make sure that the trial goes precisely how Donald Trump wants it to go. Legal scholars, pundits, and the public are naturally crying foul. Here’s the thing, though: McConnell is just blowing smoke to test the headwinds.
Mitch McConnell is many things, all of them negative – but he’s not stupid. If he had already made up his mind to conspire with the Trump regime with regard to the Senate impeachment trial, he would gain nothing by announcing it in advance, as he’d simply be making himself look corrupt for no reason. So he wouldn’t be announcing it, he’d just be doing it.
There are only two reasons for McConnell to announce in advance that he’s planning to corruptly conspire with Trump on impeachment: The first is that he’s trying to gauge just how much blowback he’ll face if he actually goes through with it, and if it’s the kind of blowback that could cost him the Senate majority in 2020. The second is that McConnell is trying to scare Democrats and liberals into paralysis by continuing to float scary doomsday fantasies as if they were foregone conclusions.
At one point Mitch McConnell announced that he would hold a very short impeachment trial with no witnesses and an automatic acquittal. At another point he announced he would mount a rigorous defense of Trump that would be held six days a week. Now he’s announcing that he’s going to do whatever Trump asks him to do with impeachment. These things can’t all be true. Yet each time McConnell blows a different kind of impeachment smoke, many people on the left take it as if it were absolute fact.
When it comes to what Mitch McConnell is saying about the Senate impeachment trial right now, the best thing anyone can do is to simply ignore him. We don’t know what he’ll do when it comes to the trial. He clearly doesn’t know yet either. He’s just throwing things at the wall to try to gauge what might fly, and what he can scare us with. None of what McConnell is saying right now has anything to do with how this will actually end up playing out. Just tune him out.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report