By rejecting any new evidence (and the potential for new evidence), Republicans hope to avoid the unpleasantness of listening to damning witnesses and reading incriminating documents — pesky reminders that to back President Trump is to avoid facts, concoct baseless conspiracies and leave common sense behind. It requires them to violate the oath they just took.
Quite simply, there is no factual basis for defending the president. The “evidence” Republicans want to rely on does not help decide the case against Trump. So what if Hunter Biden was making money off his father, and so what if the aid eventually got through? So what if Democrats wanted to impeach Trump all along? So what if evidence that is now available was not included in the House impeachment proceedings? What matters is what Trump did. That is the last thing Republicans want to probe, for they have no fact witnesses or documents disproving the House’s case.
The necessity of ignoring probative evidence and relying on partisan rhetoric and distraction raises an interesting question for Trump, his lawyers and Republicans: What exactly is the case the lawyers will put on?
House managers, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), will spend hours upon hours meticulously going through evidence, tying testimony to documents, citing the Federalist Papers and presenting an uncontroverted account of a president who withheld aid from an ally embroiled in a war with Russia — an illegal act, according to the Government Accountability Office. Evidence abounds of the corrupt deal: Ukrainians would not get aid (which legally must be transmitted to them) or a White House visit until they make an announcement of an investigation — though not the investigation itself — of a Trump political rival.
Is there anything to contradict these simple facts? If so, we never saw it in the House.
I suppose Trump’s lawyers can rant and spin conspiracies for days, impugn former vice president Joe Biden and attack the House, but how long can they keep that up? How long can they defend a case that has no factual defense? How obvious must be the lack of exonerating evidence before Republican senators begin to squirm in their seats?
Senators can ask questions through the chief justice, and I have a few for them:
- Where is the evidence that Trump was concerned about corruption in Ukraine generally?
- If Trump was concerned about corruption, why was the goal to announce an investigation rather than to conduct one?
- Why did Trump not call for investigations in Ukraine during the first two years of his presidency?
- Why has Trump not allowed firsthand witnesses who might have incriminating evidence to testify? Why has he not allowed documents to be presented?
- Why was aid released without anything further done to police corruption?
- Who other than the president would have the authority to withhold aid from Ukraine?
Republicans who falsely swore to conduct impartial justice will seek to exclude mounds of evidence, rely on unproven conspiracy theories, misread the Constitution and vilify Democrats, voting for Trump despite his failure to contradict the case against him. (They could accept all the facts as true and claim they still don’t justify removal, but Trump will have none of that. Even an acquittal that permits Republicans to save face has been ruled out.)
The problem for them is that every American will see the facts against Trump and his lawyers’ failure to rebut them. They will know the senators have taken a false oath and left in office a president who has committed more impeachable acts than any predecessor. There will be no doubt that Republican senators openly defied their oath and participated in a coverup. Like impeachment, that determination is permanent and can never be erased.