Donald Trump attempted to overthrow an election and install himself as an autocrat.
This is an inconvenient truth for congressional Republicans who were complicit in the scheme-the 147 representatives and senators who joined in objecting towards the Electoral College vote, plus the many others who helped propagate Trump's lies-so they need his impeachment trial to be about something else. Anything else.
Some of them want to raise process questions, using constitutional mumbo jumbo conjured in the region of Jonathan Turley's frontal cortex focused on maintaining his relevance.
Some of them want to parse the president's rhetoric. Was it a little too hot or too cold? Didn't he once use the word \”peaceful\”? Have there been liberal politicians in the past who have said something vaguely much like what Trump said that the Democrats now label incitement?
Some of them want to turn the proceedings right into a circus. Lindsey Graham suggested calling the QAnon shaman to the stand, and last night on Fox threatened to tug the trial out for months with new witnesses to derail the Biden agenda.
This may be the turf where the Republicans think they win. The pedantic. The preposterous. The political gamesmanship.
The turf where they lose? Donald Trump's actions. His ongoing refusal to possess up to his lies.
That's why the Democratic senators should call Lindsey Graham's bluff. If Trump's defense team wants to call pro-coup witnesses, have in internet marketing. But Donald Trump himself should be one of them.
aving Trump and those close to him testify under oath about the president's actions and lies leading up to January 6 is fertile ground for the Democrats, for two reasons.
1) The fact pattern around Trump's attempt to overthrow our democracy is long and damning and anytime Republicans are inquired about it they like to elide the facts, pretending they weren't really aboard for the particulars. But Trump was serious and literal about the coup, then and now. This tension makes things awkward for Republicans.
2) Most Senate Republicans aren't in a position to disavow Trump's stolen election lies as their voters think that they are eternal truths presented to them by the Mango Moroni on gold lamé tablets. They want their representatives to Fight for Trump, not nitpick his narrative.
And thus the best way to force the impeachment conversation to be about Trump's actions and lies-and congressional Republicans' complicity in them-is to demand he testify in the scene of the crime.
With regard to his actions, the home managers prosecuting Trump during the Senate trial aren't restricted to \”incitement,\” which is, at least in certain respects, in the eye from the beholder. The article of impeachment sent over in the House covers a range of Trump's related misdeeds, including some which are much less subjective than incitement. Threatening state election officials and letting them know to find votes is not a gray area. Holding meetings about firing Justice Department officials who won't accompany the plot is not a gray area. Repeatedly making provably false claims about fraud in support of an effort to overturn the election outcome is not a gray area. A factual case that demonstrates this multi-pronged effort to overturn the election will be much harder for Republicans to weasel from than incitement.
And the weaseling will become basically impossible if Trump himself is there to confirm his own transgressions. This past weekend, when Trump canned his impeachment lawyers, CNN reported that the former president's falling out with his legal team was over his desire that the attorneys \”argue there was mass election fraud and that the election was stolen from him.\”
That leak should have Democratic impeachment managers licking their chops in the prospect of bringing the Trump freak show to Washington. Trump's congenital inability to acknowledge defeat or even attempt a face-saving lie about how he didn't really want to steal the election puts Republican senators in a completely untenable situation.
he same personality disorder that stops Trump from admitting defeat ought to be used to urge his testimony.
He ought to be repeatedly called out like a coward and worse if he refuses to take the stand in his own defense. Trump will end up apoplectic if he is derided and taunted and mocked without having the White House bully pulpit and a united Republican caucus to defend him as he did during the last impeachment.
While Democrats are extremely enjoying their respite from Trump's madness, smoking him out during impeachment should be a strategic imperative if they want to maximize the pain that Republicans triggered themselves by going combined with the Big Lie. Anytime these Republicans want to play cute with the facts or avoid admitting to the coup motivations in the lead-up to January 6, the president's own testimony will pull the rug from under them.
Plus Trump's very presence would boost the emotional valence and drama round the proceedings. The coup-neutral Republicans benefit from letting time sand away at the raw emotions of Insurrection Day. That's harder to complete when the man responsible for the mob is forced to answer for it in a scene that is without precedent in American history.
Too often Trump continues to be able to run out the clock on his scandals as other news stories displace them. He avoided Mueller. He ducked testifying on Ukraine.
This is really a time to hold his feet to the fire. He must not be permitted to try to end American democracy without having to answer for it.
The United States Capitol was besieged by a mob of Trump's own creating. He ought to be dared to stand and testify for the reason that very building and reap what he sowed.