Yesterday we pointed out that, for all his confident bluster, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was not in control of what was happening with Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Instead, the shots were being called by a handful of holdout Republican Senators who fear that a sham trial could prompt voters to harm their own personal political careers. Sure enough, we’re already seeing proof of that today.
Yesterday Mitch McConnell announced that he was going to give each side a total of 24 hours, spread over two days, to make their case. Combined with the noon-ish start time each day, this ensured that the proceedings would be running as late as midnight, making it difficult for the public to tune in and keep up. Palmer Report pointed out that this was merely yet another instance of McConnell announcing his fantasy as if it were fact, and hoping the media would report it as fact, thus discouraging the Resistance.
Sure enough, McConnell has “decided” today to change it from two days to three. This means roughly eight hours of presentations per day, meaning the proceedings will be wrapping up in prime time each day. McConnell has also “decided” to allow all evidence to be introduced by default, short of an objection. We’re putting the word “decided” in quotation marks because McConnell isn’t the one who made this decision. NBC News is reporting that Susan Collins pressured McConnell into the change.
Susan Collins deserves no credit for this, and she’s every bit as untrustworthy as Mitch McConnell. But this is nonetheless good news for the Resistance. It means that Collins is already nervous about a sham trial blowing back against her in her November 2020 reelection bid, and McConnell is already nervous enough to cave to Collins. If the Resistance keeps making certain GOP Senators like Collins nervous about their political futures, we’ll likely see more caving when it comes to things like witnesses.
We’re not going to get anything close to a fully fair trial. And the Republican Senate is very likely going to acquit Donald Trump in the end. But with Donald Trump’s terrible approval rating heading into 2020, the only way this trial will be a “win” for him is if it ends up significantly boosting his approval rating. If the trial proceedings end up being ugly enough for Trump that his approval rating stays the same or goes down, then this trial will be a bodyblow to Trump even if he is acquitted. If GOP Senators get nervous enough that they allow a trial format that’s even a little bit ugly for Trump, then the Resistance will have won the impeachment fight.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report