The Second Senate Impeachment Trial of former President Donald Trump is not going away despite the best efforts of Republicans to ignore it. The House Managers brought forth powerful testimony and newly released video evidence that showed how shockingly close many congressmen and their staffers came to Trump’s violent, unruly mob. While some were shown to be physically distressed by the events of January 6th being played before them it remains to be seen whether this will actually change anyone’s votes.
Senator Mitt Romney notably was seen on video being directed by Capitol Police hero Eugene Goodman. The video, which the senator had not seen, showed Goodman guiding Romney in the opposite direction of the mob, which arrived within a hair’s breadth of where the senator had been.
Given the context of other video recordings of that day that the Managers had already introduced, we knew how amped up the crowd was, how they were doing this “for Trump” and how desperate they were to find someone, anyone that they had personal animus for. It’s important to remember that it wouldn’t have mattered that someone like Romney was a Republican. He was already being on their shit list for not objecting to Joe Biden’s win. What they wanted was Trump and anyone who got in their way was a traitor.
Many have already noted the Republican reactions to the videos. Stories of hands shaking, and friends supporting friends while having to relive that day. Nevertheless, several appeared entirely non-plussed and/or on the verge of inarticulate rage. Josh Hawley had kicked up his feet and was reading some unrelated papers, while Rand Paul was caught doodling, and Rick Scott appeared to be intently studying a map of Southeast Asia(?). Mike Lee was paying attention though! But only because he was tangentially involved! After the trial was adjourned for the day, Lee demanded to strike the record of Rep. Ciciline accurately citing a story that Trump called Mike Lee’s cell phone by mistake.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski was quoted as saying that “I don’t know how Trump could be elected again” which doesn’t say a whole lot, really. Like, he got really, really, close, Senator, and that was before he tried to effect a coup that may well have ended your life.
Is she gonna vote to convict? Who’s to say. It’s a quote that ever so faintly damns the acts but leaves plenty of wiggle room.
Senate Minority Leader (heh) Mitch McConnell for his part, does not appear to be pressuring Republicans to acquit Trump. He hasn’t really told them to do anything. This is also to say he’s certainly not going to help the situation. After all, he negotiated to have the trial start after Biden’s inauguration and then voted “Nay” on the constitutionality of the impeachment. https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/538358-mcconnell-not-pressuring-gop-to-acquit-trump
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-Trump Tower) has privately assured the ex-president that he will be acquitted. After 44 senators voted Nay on the constitutionality of the trial, Graham was confident of an acquittal even if the President’s legal team continues to be awful. And unfortunately, I don’t think he’s wrong. People can be reminded of how visceral the violence was, how close they came to death, and it won’t change things. Recall that GOP House Whip Steve Scalise was shot by a gunman during a baseball game and has not undergone a drastic change to his views on gun rights. For some it never mattered. For some, their own lives matter, but hey, they survived so fuck it.
I have no confidence in a conviction. If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that impeachment is not, and has never been, an effective tool for reprimand in our government. The stakes are just too high for enough congressmen to do the right thing. I don’t know what happens next but I’d feel a lot safer if we could just perma-ban Trump from government. But it appears that is just too much to ask.
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