As Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial has dragged on today, the House Democrats running the prosecution haven’t managed to get a single one of their measures passed. Thus far they haven’t managed to get a single witness called. And they don’t appear to be anywhere close to convincing the Republican Senate to convict and remove Trump. All that said, the Democrats have won the first day of the trial, in a big way.
The Democrats have already scared Susan Collins into pushing Mitch McConnell into dropping his plan to hold impeachment hearings until midnight each night. The Democrats have already figured out how to work around McConnell’s restrictions on new evidence by simply introducing it during their arguments today. McConnell hasn’t found a way to stop them. Chief Justice John Roberts has shown no interest in stopping them. McConnell isn’t in control of this trial, and that’s half the battle.
The Democrats have also won every head to head argument. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, a shadowy figure who was supposed to be Donald Trump’s secret weapon during this trial, has turned out to be as much of a babbling buffoon as any of Trump’s other lawyers. In contrast, Adam Schiff, Val Demings, Hakeem Jeffries, and the other Democratic House impeachment managers have been making compelling cases all day long that Trump is guilty in his Ukraine scandal, and that Senate Republicans are guilty of trying to gift him a sham trial.
Keep mind what the win-loss parameters are here. No one is expecting twenty Republican Senators to vote to convict and remove Donald Trump. Barring some unexpected earth-shattering event, that’s not even on the table. Sure, Trump will be acquitted. But this will only be a “win” for him if he can somehow use the trial to give a major boost to his current 40% approval rating. As things stand, he’s not even in contention for 2020. If he comes out of this trial with his approval rating the same or lower than it is now, then he’s lost the trial. The way things are going today, the Democrats have won this day – and it’s not even close.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report