If you are gnashing your teeth and contemplating donning a hair shirt and self-flagellating, upon hearing that Lisa Murkowski voted thumbs down on witnesses, save it for a more appropriate occasion. Murkowski offered the hope that the Senate might in fact be forced into doing an impeachment trial like all the others, with witnesses and evidence, either with the tie-breaking vote of John Roberts, or the acquiescence of yet a fourth Republican. Those were desirable scenarios, but by no means does the fact that they won’t take place extinguish the good that has actually taken place in the last ten days and in the past 24 hours.
When Susan Collins announced that she was voting for witnesses Thursday night, that was a monumental moment. Right then, the issue became a bi-partisan one, and Trump could no longer claim exoneration and do a victory lap. That was further ratified Friday morning by Mitt Romney joining her. Yes, they are only two Republicans, when bare minimum three were needed to even raise the issue of witnesses, but the fact that there were any renders Mitch McConnell’s cover-up a less than perfect success and that is a good thing for America, on it’s face.
Now here’s the larger picture that needs to be borne in mind: McConnell has his caucus mesmerized into believing that the electorate will forget all about this by November. Ain’t gonna happen. Why? Because John Bolton dropped yet another bomb Friday, about Cipollone, Mulvaney and Guiliani being in the Oval Office with Trump, and Trump telling Bolton that he needed to arrange a meeting on the Biden conspiracy theory between Giuliani and President Zelensky. This is just the beginning.
If John Bolton doesn’t get to testify before the Senate, which it appears that he won’t, fine. He’ll testify in the Court of Public Opinion. And smack dab guaranteed, that court is not going to adjourn between now and November. Au contraire, the trial in that court is just going to gain momentum as the months go by and have more people swelling the gallery as we draw closer to Election Day. McConnell is counting on Fox News to do it’s job, and sow the seeds of cultural division and discord as only they can do with the ongoing dirge about guns, abortion, race and immigrants, and link it all to the “hoax” and “witch hunt” and defuse the issue.
However, there’s only so much damage control that even Fox News can do. Every day there will be something new on the most spectacular political cover-up in American history, which the Republican-led Senate was a willing accomplice to. This is not only not going to go away in one or two news cycles, this is actually going to get much worse. Lev Parnas and John Bolton will be fixtures on cable news and late night talk shows. This witnesses vote is a scandal, par excellence, and will trigger a phenomenon we haven’t seen before: a post-impeachment-mortem, a dismemberment of a president acquitted of impeachment, and of all the players in his corrupt administration, and in the Senate, that collectively led us down this path.
Lev Parnas’ lawyer just sent a letter to Mitch McConnell, describing how his client can describe “the thousands of micro-steps he took in connection with this plan” to dig up non-existent dirt on the Bidens. You think this is going to go away? If McConnell does, it’s because he’s never dealt with a scandal of this size and complexity before and he doesn’t know how to judge it — and certainly that makes sense.
Conservative columnist Quin Hilyer warned the GOP just two days ago that they “were digging their own graves” by not voting to allow witnesses. The title of his piece is “The Longer The GOP Blocks Bolton, The More He Will Hurt Them.” Washington Examiner:
Senate Republicans covering for Trump are letting all their chips ride on the intensity of the voters from Trump’s base to carry them through to reelection, but that’s a risky bet. Especially with highly controversial candidates, those supporters can suddenly reach a breaking point where enough is enough. I’ve seen numerous elections where support for high-risk candidates suddenly evaporated, resulting in massive, sudden swings in the polls — one from a dead heat to a 25-point loss in just three weeks.
Republicans who don’t hedge their bets by at least allowing witnesses will have no chance to survive if Trump takes a dive. The remaining Republicans would face increasing odds of finding themselves a powerless minority against an enraged and emboldened Democratic majority absolutely out for blood.
I would bet money right now that Cory Gardner is going down in flames. You know the other names, McSally, Tillis, the lot of them. They are the high-risk candidates that Hilyer talks about and they just signed their own political death warrants.
We may have appeared to lose this battle, and technically we have lost, Trump will not be removed — and we knew that gong in. But the defection of two Republican senators prevents it from wearing the coat of whitewash that we expected. Trump and Fox News can’t spin this as a partisan hatchet job now. Plus the fact that this is the only one out of 15 impeachment trials held in the Senate to date to be held without benefit of witnesses or evidence is uniquely compelling,in and of itself. There is something transparently wrong with this picture.
The Ukraine scandal has a life of it’s own. It was spawned in the fertile ground of the Mueller investigation, which never yielded fruit — rather, it never yielded the desired result, from an orchard of evidence gleaned — and it looks to grow to beanstalk proportions in the days and months ahead. There has never been a conspiracy or a cover-up of this size at the top of government. Ukraine makes Watergate look like watermelon.
The Senate Republicans who are doing this cover-up know full well what they’re doing. Lamar Alexander acknowledged it. Donald Trump is guilty. That’s been proven. And it’s simply easier for the Republican-led Senate to default on their oaths and shirk their job responsibilities and turn the burden over to the American people. The GOP doesn’t want to deal with Ukraine, it’s too hot and way too messy for them to handle.
So be it. Now it’s on us, we the people. We need to get out the vote like never before, because this is the Big Election, not only of our lifetimes but in the country’s history, and it will be remembered as such for all time. Either we stand up and fight to preserve democracy or we go to the slaughter like a country of sheep, surrounded by a nation of wolves. Are we going to be consumers of bread and circus, sitting complacently in front of the tube, or are we going to be Americans and go out and fight for our heritage? That’s the question. This is the turning point, right here, Election 2020. Choose your side. You won’t have a second chance.