“It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to ‘guilty,’ ” McConnell said. “That would hardly be impartial justice. . . . If House Democrats’ case is this deficient, this thin, the answer is not for the judge and jury to cure it here in the Senate. The answer is that the House should not impeach on this basis in the first place.”
McConnell criticized the House process as rushed and harked back to the good old days of 1999 and the trial of then-President Bill Clinton as the correct model to follow. No witnesses testified in person then, either, though McConnell advocated it and three witnesses were deposed at the Senate’s request. As Schumer has pointed out, the witnesses Republicans wanted to appear in 1999 had already given grand jury testimony.
In contrast, this time around, none of Schumer’s requested witnesses have been heard from in any form or forum. What’s clear is that Republicans fear what White House officials might say about Trump and Ukraine; Democrats fear that Trump will not only walk away from the impeachment but also win reelection. Be afraid, be very afraid.
It’s a virtual certainty that Trump will emerge relatively unscathed and, credibly, unfazed. Not only are his supporters more stalwart than ever but, ahem, as I predicted a couple of columns ago, his base is expanding. Since the impeachment proceedings began, 600,000 new donors have contributed to the Republican National Committee, according to Axios. Last week alone, just as the House Judiciary Committee adopted two articles of impeachment, the Trump campaign and RNC together took in more than $10 million in small-dollar donations.
The Democratic National Committee made no such commensurate gains, though some Democrats running against designated Republican villains, such as Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), did see an uptick in fundraising.
Suffice to say, the Democrats have probably damaged themselves more than they have Trump, whose approval ratings have remained relatively steady between a low of 35 percent in 2017 and a high of 46 percent in April 2019 — no matter what he does to whom, according to Gallup. The latest RealClearPolitics poll average has him at 44 percent approval, which is slightly higher than in early October.
Meanwhile, the handful of Democratic presidential candidates still clinging to variations of hope and change face off Thursday at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles after barely dodging a close encounter with their own petards. A week-long cafeteria workers’ strike at the school had threatened to shut down the debate, as no self-respecting Democrat would cross a picket line.
Fortunately, negotiators were able to wrap things up, and the debate is on. You can feel the excitement. I confess, however, to minor disappointment. Not that I have plans that night, but I had looked forward to these potential presidents joining the strikers.
In my daydream, avuncular ol’ Joe Biden would embrace every single worker. Pete Buttigieg would tell about the cafeteria lady he helped cross the street that time at Harvard. Andrew Yang would skip the line and negotiate a universal basic income. Warren would show up wearing a food worker’s hair net in solidarity. Bernie Sanders would call Larry David to stand in so he could go home and rest.
Amy Klobuchar would ask one of the strikers whether she could borrow a comb, having brought along her dinner salad. And, finally, billionaire Tom Steyer would walk the line shaking hands and muttering, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Which is to say: Unless a photo surfaces showing latecomer Mike Bloomberg shooting a polar bear while slurping an extra-large, sugar-laden soda, you can expect a Trump sequel in 2020. Sorry for the spoiler.