John Bolton forced Republicans into a corner — and Mitch McConnell refuses to bail them out: columnist
According to Davis Faris writing for The Week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is putting the future of his party in jeopardy by doing all he can to make sure no witnesses appear on the Senate floor in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump –particularly in light of former national security advisor John Bolton’s revelations in his upcoming book.
With reports that McConnell is pushing back at Republican senators who want to see witnesses called — including some GOP lawmakers looking at tough re-election bids — the political science professor at Roosevelt University claimed the Kentucky Republican is making a big gamble that voters will have short memories which he called a “blunder” by McConnell.
“Mitch McConnell is reportedly furiously trying to whip the votes necessary to avoid calling witnesses in the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Trump,” he wrote. “This seems like a rare case where McConnell is making a politically substantive error.”
Making his case, he points out, “Many Senate Republicans announced in advance that they would acquit the president no matter what they heard or saw in the House or in the Senate trial. Despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s apparent effort to hold onto the impeachment articles until McConnell cracked and agreed to witnesses, McConnell successfully called the bluff. The trial was always going to be whatever he wanted it to be: brief, with a conclusion so inevitable that the audience tunes out,” before adding, “Until Sunday, it was all going according to plan.”
“The president’s other lawyers responded to the House managers’ meticulous presentation with an impressive-in-its-scope hodgepodge of preposterous constitutional arguments, Federalist Papers mad libbing, and, remarkably, the same nonsense about the ‘perfect call’ and Biden and Burisma that the House stuck with until the bitter end,” he continued.
Writing, “It’s remarkable because, while there genuinely seem to be dozens of House Republicans who are credulous enough to actually believe the president’s absurd spin, there aren’t more than a handful of true Trump believers in the Senate, where the off-the-record frustration with the president’s non-stop, presidency-warping antics are a badly kept secret. They are voting to acquit not because, in their hearts, they think the president did nothing wrong, but because they share the widespread belief that convicting him would cripple the party heading into the 2020 elections and they don’t want to cross a man who has no compunction about knifing wavering Republicans,” he adds they may be whistling past the graveyard.
‘It is a difficult logic to convey to the public, and to reporters. And it’s awkward, because the president’s attorneys are laying down the last layer of icing on a B.S. cake that most Senate Republicans will not be able to bring themselves to eat in public,” which, he notes, will come back to bite those GOP lawmakers who are being forced into the position of defending the president against their own best interests.
Not given the option of saying that they believe what the president did was wrong, but it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment, Faris suggests they may be sealing their own doom by going along with the majority leader.
“Sunday’s news about former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s forthcoming memoir was therefore disruptive not because the GOP is all that terrified of calling witnesses in this trial, but because it makes it that much harder to square the needs of vulnerable Republican senators with the absurd narrative the rest of the party is rolling with,” he wrote.
“Why not just rip the band-aid off today and get all of the damaging information that exists out into the open, rather than closer to the election? Now that Bolton’s story is out there, rushing a witness-free trial benefits no one in the Republican Party,” he explained. “It doesn’t help the purple state senators who have to explain both Bolton’s charges and the decision not to call him as a witness. It certainly doesn’t help the president. It gives Democrats a cudgel with which to assail their adversaries from now until November. And it will give the spotlight right back to Democratic primary contenders currently starved of media oxygen.”
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