Republicans can pretend they did not hear the mountain of evidence in support of each of these points. They can pretend there is contradictory evidence (where?), though that would require them to allow definitive evidence in the form of new witnesses and documents. They can argue that abuse of power is not impeachable, but that is legally preposterous and dangerous. So what to do?
They could simply lie, as many are doing. (No facts! You need a crime!) That works for red-state senators who are shameless and operate entirely within the right-wing media bubble. But what’s the strategy for politically vulnerable senators who know the facts against Trump are irrefutable, his conduct was impeachable, and that the president has provided no legitimate defense?
One option for Republicans is to call for more witnesses — or allow them later so they can plead they did not create a sham trial. Another option is to do just as their red-state colleagues are doing and hope voters at home do not punish them for refusing to uphold their oaths of office. A third option would be to do the right thing, namely, vote to remove Trump, with or without new testimony. Is there another option?
There is actually an obvious and possibly accurate defense that no Republican senator dare advance. It goes like this: The president has never understood that there is a difference between his political/personal interests and national security. Trump has a narcissistic personality so he cannot intentionally betray the country for his own benefit because he thinks they are one and the same. He is also highly ignorant and malleable, so he will believe any illogical conspiracy theory that Russian President Vladimir Putin advances and/or that serves his interests. No matter how many times he was told that Ukraine did not interfere with our election, or that aid to Ukraine was in the United States’ interest, or that he could not stop aid in violation of law, he could not mentally process such information. He believed that advisers who told him such things were weak or out to get him. In other words, Trump is so mentally and emotionally defective, he cannot understand the import of his actions or concepts such as right vs. wrong, true vs. false and personal vs. national interests. As for obstruction, his lawyer told him to refuse to give up anything, so he simply took that advice.
That might all be true. But, of course, it also posits that Trump is entirely unfit to carry out his job and lacks the capacity to adhere to an oath that requires him to put the nation’s interests above his own. It would mean Republicans are keeping in power and urging the reelection of a dangerous, unfit and deeply damaged personality because they are afraid of him or afraid of his base, which has imbibed the lies perpetrated by right-wing media.
So which is it: Is Trump guilty or just unfit? Do vulnerable Republicans insist they have not heard a damning case or that abuse of power (verging on megalomania) is not impeachable? I suspect most senators will just play dumb and hope the voters don’t notice they have aided and abetted a dangerously unfit president, thereby putting our democracy at risk.