On days like this, when the earth begins to fundamentally shift beneath the political landscape, the hot takes begin to come out of the woodwork. To give you an idea of just how contrarian the pundit takes can be on days like today, Fox News host Chris Wallace said it was devastating to Donald Trump, while some liberal pundits insisted that Trump somehow won the day. So what’s the real truth?
First, today was terrible for Donald Trump. Both witnesses came off as highly credible. It was clear that they weren’t out to get Trump; they were just doing their duty in the form of testifying about a crime they witnessed. They dispassionately spelled out some truly ugly things about Trump’s Ukraine crime spree. Adam Schiff clearly wanted to start things off by establishing the credibility of the proceedings rather than jumping straight to the witnesses with the most sordid tales to tell – and Schiff achieved what he was trying to pull off. But that’s just one aspect of what we saw today.
The second truth is that this was only one day. Yes, the House Democrats won the day, and Donald Trump lost the day. But there will be upcoming days with much higher stakes. Consider that Fiona Hill is set to publicly testify on Friday about what she and John Bolton witnessed. For that matter, the highly controversial Gordon Sondland is set to publicly testify next week. Those hearings will have a much greater impact on the impeachment process than what we saw today.
The third truth is that we don’t know the specifics of what comes next. Senate Republicans began talking openly today about their schedule for the impeachment trial. That’s cute, but they have no idea when the impeachment process will be handed over to them; they’re just daydreaming. House Democrats say they’re moving forward without Bolton’s testimony, but if they conclude after a few more hearings that they need him, they’ll find a way to stretch things out just long enough to include him. Everyone has a hypothetical plan, but everyone is going to have to play it by ear. Trump lost badly today. He’ll probably keep losing badly as these hearings go on. But let’s take it one day at a time.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report