On the eve of Trump’s impeachment trial, while all the pundit chatter has revolved around the possible admission of fresh evidence and witness testimony, Mitch McConnell and Donald’s craptacular celebrity legal “dream team” of snarling louts and mediocrities – Jeffrey Epstein’s pal Alan Dershowitz! Discredited retread Ken Frigging Starr for the love of Christ! – have pulled out the Trumpian playbook and called the standard, last refuge of the scoundrel defence: yeah, I did that. So what?
Now, this is risky, but sort of brilliant. By contending, absurdly, that impeachment must be predicated on indictable crimes, not mere abuse of office, and then admitting to everything set out in the Articles of Impeachment because it’s all irrelevant, there being no crime alleged, what Mitch and his buddies have done is completely cut the legs out from under the argument that new evidence and witness testimony need to be part of the trial. No they don’t! Why, for goodness sakes? To further prove the allegations that the Dems made in the House? No need! We admit it! No use in belabouring the point! Now let us instead, dear colleagues, leave off flogging this poor dead equine, and vote our consciences as Hamilton and Madison intended.
Oh, clever, clever Mitch!
Of course, this is unadulterated bullshit that smelleth rank to the very gates of Heaven. Of course it is. It’s perfectly clear, as a matter of constitutional law, that no breach of a criminal statute is needed to fit within the historical definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, a term with its roots in English jurisprudence that means “abuse or malfeasance in the performance of high office”. It’s also clear that anyway, Trump did break the law while extorting Ukraine (as the GAO just reported), and that for good measure, the sort of extortion/bribery engaged in was not only a federal crime, but comes within the constitutional grounds for impeachment, which are enumerated to include not just high crimes and misdemeanors, but also bribery (treason too, though sadly Trump’s hijinks, however traitorous, don’t qualify).
If you’re Mitch, though, you’re saying yeah, but who cares? Mitch figures, no doubt rightly, that the rubes out there in MAGAland won’t know any better; moreover, the way he sees it, the whole low-information American electorate, and therefore anybody who might be sitting on the fence, is so ill-informed that nobody but the diehard MSNBC crowd will realize that Trump’s defence is patently ridiculous.
Mind you, this is going to push McConnell’s minions almost to the breaking point – almost. You see, even though the entirety of the GOP Senate caucus consists of unabashed poodles, many, perhaps most, remain legally trained poodles. All those lawyers are going to have to confront what they all must immediately understand to be a grave and malicious constitutional misrepresentation, swallow hard, and vote that they heartily accept the whole line of bull. Even toadies that snivel as tenaciously as this crew will find that difficult. As a legal, constitutional rebuttal of the Articles of Impeachment, the Dershowitz/McConnell argument isn’t just wholly implausible – if it wasn’t so horrifying in its implications, it’d be hilarious. It forces GOP Senators, jarringly, to go on the record, for all time, with a vote that history will surely judge to have been based on a lie they all perpetrated together, immoral gang of unpatriotic constitutional vandals that they were. It will force them to enshrine the principle that egregious abuse of high office, including election-rigging with foreign assistance, is not impeachable.
For lawyers, even your dimbulb bottom-half-of-the-class sort of lawyers, that’s a lot to swallow, since Trump’s misdeeds are quintessentially the stuff of impeachment. A lot of them match behaviour discussed expressly, and with palpable dread, in the Federalist Papers themselves, for crying out loud. How can they not be impeachable!? That’s insane! It is, in fact, an almost stunningly heretical embrace of everything the Founders railed against when drafting the impeachment power into the poor, Trump-trampled Constitution in the first place! It’s like asking the College of Cardinals to affirm their long settled understanding that there certainly is no God, just like the Bible says.
They’ll do it though. Oh, they’ll do it all right. They’ll stare into the gaping pit of Hell, and fear Trump more. But then they’ll all have to stand there, the naked liars, and live with themselves, while hoping against hope that Mitch is right, and nobody will know or care how full of hypocritical shite they really are. That’s the risky part. We know the MAGA Monsters are in the bag. That 35-40% will never abandon Donald. But won’t everybody else balk at an acquittal that doesn’t merely amount to jury nullification, with the subtext that Trump gets a pass on any and all wrongdoing, but takes it to the next level and outright endorses the “yeah, so what?” defence? If anything was calculated to galvanize a possibly cynical, weary public, and drive them to the polls in November, isn’t this it?
It’s as if Mitch just can’t help himself, like he’s dying to see if he’s really right, and just has to know whether it’s actually true that nothing matters, and he can get away with absolutely anything. Just watch me, says Mitch. That bomb is a dud, and I’m clipping the frigging blue wire.
What’ll it be for Fat Donny, America? The Great Escape, or a Great Big Kaboom?