The loss of Sen. John McCain is painfully apparent in Washington. His absence in sorely missing as the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump begins.
There is not a single Republican in the Senate with the stature or courage of the late Arizona senator and presidential nominee to stand up to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or Trump at this historic moment. No one to speak up for a fair trial with witnesses and documents.
Not even Mitt Romney, another former GOP presidential nominee and now junior senator from Utah. This is a time for moral leadership, not for hiding in the cloakroom gulping Kool-Aid.
McCain would be appalled to know his former wingman, Sen. Lindsey Graham, has gone over to the dark side.
Graham, Trump’s new sidekick and parttime caddy, declared “I’m not trying to be a fair juror here.” Just over four years ago, while McCain was alive, he called Trump a “race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot” who was “unfit for office.” Then Trump was elected, and Graham drank the Kool-Aid, hoping to be “relevant.”
Even before the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump began, McConnell announced he had no intention of honoring his solemn oath of “impartial justice” and instead he intended to coordinate closely with the White House. And he has.
Other GOP senators said much the same. For the most part they want no witnesses, no documents and no new evidence.
Trump Kool-Aid is the beverage of choice in the Senate Republican cloakroom these days. In Trumptown the faithful are expected to show their loyalty to the cult leader by swallowing his deceitful beverage whole.
The brief filed by the president’s team read like they’d been heavily edited by someone with a Sharpie and no knowledge of constitutional law. At the heart of the president’s defense is his insistence that he “did absolutely nothing wrong.” Which raises the obvious question: so why does he refuse to turn over any documents or allow top advisors to testify?
The biggest joke in Washington is Trump’s defense that his refusal is based on his desire to protect the presidency for all those who will hold the office in the future. Bubbehmysis. Trump’s interest always has been and always will be Trump.
Maybe it’s because he knows facts are irrelevant when he has 53 votes ready to dismiss the case without hearing any evidence no matter what his crimes may be. And because he knows most senators are more frightened of his wrath than their constituents.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the faux moderate, is well aware that if she displeases Trump, he could retaliate by endorsing and funding a primary opponent in her race for a fifth term, and she won’t make it to November to face a Democratic challenger.
Trump wasn’t in town for Monday’s opening of his impeachment trial. He flew off Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, where he boasted endlessly about his economic achievements, real and imagined.
One place he should be going but won’t is Jerusalem for the gathering of world leaders to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Another reason to attend is this year’s theme is “Fighting Anti-Semitism” at a time when the United States is facing a surge in anti-Jewish violence – in no small measure the inevitable result of his legitimization of far-right, anti-Semitic and white supremacist extremists.
Moscow Mitch’s ground rules for the impeachment have the earmarks of a Kremlin show trial with no witnesses, no evidence, secret testimony (if any) and quickly moving to a predetermined outcome.
Trump, of course, did commit a very serious crime. He extorted a foreign power by withholding security assistance in an effort to force it to help smear his political enemies. Then he lied about it (not under oath, he refused to do that) and blocked every effort by the House to call witnesses and see documents. Which undercuts the President’s defense.
McConnell may have the votes to keep Trump in office (although most Americans want to hear witnesses and 51 percent want to see him removed) for now, but voters may render a different verdict in November. It is times like this that a man with the integrity and courage of John McCain is missed the most. No successor is on the horizon.
Whatever the verdict, as Nancy Pelosi said, Trump will always be the impeached president and that stigma will follow him into the history books. Along with much more evidence of his corruption, which is certain to emerge after he leaves office.