You may not remember this, but there was a time a few weeks ago when President Trump was claiming he badly wanted an impeachment trial in the Senate because, unlike the House’s proceedings, the trial would be “fair” to him.

The president even loudly boasted that it would play to his benefit, because it would feature “witnesses” such as former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter. They have nothing whatsoever to do with the corrupt conduct for which Trump has been impeached, but calling them might allow Trump to keep smearing Biden with lies in advance of the 2020 election.

Since then, we’ve learned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) isn’t so sure this is a good idea, because it could produce an unpredictable circus. Worse, it might mean Democrats call the witnesses they want, which must be prevented at all costs, because those witnesses actually do have direct knowledge of Trump’s corrupt freezing of military aid to Ukraine, which he did to extort its president into doing his political dirty deeds.

So McConnell wants a quick trial, with no witnesses — and no new revelations. And Trump reportedly understands his point of view.

Republicans and Democrats clashed Dec. 29 over guidelines for the Senate's impeachment trial of President Trump. (The Washington Post)

Trump is now drawing attention to still another possibility: The notion that the Senate might vote to dismiss the charges against him even before any trial takes place.

The president just tweeted out an extensive quote from one of his media allies, and one of the key points raised is that Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) plans to introduce a motion to dismiss the trial entirely, on the grounds that House Democrats have not yet submitted articles of impeachment.

Hawley himself has floated this plan:

To my knowledge, this is the first time Trump has drawn attention to this idea.

The first question it raises is this: If Trump were so sure that a trial would play in his favor, why would he be positively disposed to seeing it dismissed at the ouset? Wasn’t he going to put on a great show at his trial of parading forth the Bidens, that is, the real criminals in this whole saga?

Indeed, you have to ask why Trump and McConnell aren’t eager to hear testimony from both the Bidens and the witnesses that Democrats want, who include acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton.

If Trump froze the military aid for purely reasonable foreign policy purposes, and if all of his demands that Ukraine investigate the Bidens were grounded in legitimate claims about them — which the president and his GOP defenders keep claiming — wouldn’t a trial with witnesses on both sides be a boon to him?

It would. But in the real world, all the stuff about the Bidens is made up, and the witnesses Democrats want directly interacted with Trump over his corrupt freezing of the aid and, at a trial, they’d have to testify about this under oath. And on top of this, a fusillade of new revelations has shown that inside the administration, concern about the illegality, propriety and potentially awful consequences of the aid freeze were much deeper than previously known.

So instead of a trial that includes witnesses that both sides want, Trump and McConnell appear to prefer a trial with no witnesses at all, and, now, possibly even a dismissal before any trial happens. Strange, isn’t it?

On Dec. 31, President Trump called the impeachment proceedings against him in Congress a "big fat hoax" and said the Senate trial would go "very quick." (The Washington Post)

Finally, it will be amusing to see how eager vulnerable Republican senators such as Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Martha McSally (Ariz.) are to take a vote to dismiss the trial against Trump.

If they do, Democrats are already vowing to make them pay in their reelection campaigns, by relentlessly pointing out that they shirked their constitutional duty, all to help Trump escape accountability.

Amusingly enough, by positively floating the idea of a dismissal, Trump has now tied his own wishes tightly to such an outcome, making it impossible for those Republicans to support dismissal without getting tarred for doing Trump’s corrupt bidding.

So if those vulnerable Republicans balk, it will be a key tell that the politics of letting Trump off with a sham trial are more challenging for Republicans than they’re letting on.

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