Fix is in, Trump team makes radical shift in his defense
The GOP senators have bought, hook, line and sinker, the argument put forward by TV lawyer Alan Dershowitz, seen here laying out his proposition in the Senate that there is literally almost nothing for which a president can be impeached. It doesn't matter, the argument goes, even if he is guilty of everything he is charged with in the articles of impeachment. | Senate Television via AP

Ditching months of claims by President Trump that his dealings with Ukraine were “perfect,” Trump’s TV lawyers and GOP lawmakers are now asserting that a quid-pro-quo of aid for political favors – even if proven beyond a shadow of a doubt – is not grounds for impeachment.

They have taken the logic offered them Monday by sleaze lawyer Alan Dershowitz and they are running with it. Dershowitz said that since all politicians overlap their own and the public interests, “it cannot be impeachable.” If a president believes that doing things that are good for him are also good for the country then he cannot be impeached, he told lawmakers at the trial this week.

Following that logic, even if a president broke U.S. law, for example, by bribing a foreign leader to construct a hotel in that country, a hotel from which he would reap the profits, he could not be impeached if he “believed” that such lining of his pockets was good for the country as a whole.

The point to which that absurdity takes us, of course, is to the point where it is impossible to impeach a president for any reason whatsoever, up to and including the shooting of someone on Fifth Avenue.

Since all politicians conflate their personal interests with the public interest “it cannot be impeachable,” the GOP lawmakers are telling us now.

It is clear from the question and answer phase that began yesterday that almost all the GOP senators are buying into this logic and have made up their minds against witnesses and for acquittal of the president. It is unlikely that there will be more than three who bolt, short of the necessary four needed to call witnesses.

It is frequently asked: How can GOP senators defy 75 percent of the population? The answer is that the 51 GOP senators who make up the majority in that body don’t represent the broad majority of Americans. They represent only about 18 percent of the population – the portion of the U.S. population that lives in the states from which they come.

A low population and less diverse state like Wyoming gets the same two votes in the Senate as diverse California with its 30 million people.

The fossil fuel industry and the Trump operation don’t have to spend too much on election campaigns to ensure the votes of two senators in a small state like Wyoming. The two pro-Trump senators from there will respond to the Trump base in that state rather than worry about the anti-Trump majorities in other states.

Democrats nevertheless continue to try to force the Senate to call more witnesses, bringing up the issue every way they know how, McConnell and the Republicans are determined to bring it all to an end by the end of this week, however.

The Bolton revelations have also been filed by them in the draw where things that, even if true, are not impeachable.

Texas Republican Ted Cruz, whose wife Trump once said was “ugly” and whose father Trump once said was implicated in the John F. Kennedy assassination, groveled before his now-master Trump and asked during the question and answer session yesterday if it mattered that there was a quid pro quo.

“No,” Dershowitz declared, shocking Rep. Adam Schiff, chief House impeachment manager. “All quid pro quos are not the same,” he protested. Some might be acceptable, some not. “And you don’t need to be a mind reader to figure out which is which. For one thing, you can ask John Bolton.”

Democrats are making their final push for witnesses today and tomorrow. Without witnesses, of course, it cannot be said that what is happening in the Senate now even remotely approaches the definition of a  fair trial.”

The new argument by the Trump defense team says, essentially, that despite having abused his power in a more stunning and extreme way than any previous president, despite harming relations with another country,  despite damaging U.S. security interests, despite leveraging congressionally-approved aid for his own personal and political gain, and despite destroying the constitutional system of checks and balances, the president has done nothing to deserve impeachment.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate could not reach a fair verdict without hearing from Bolton or White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, both first-hand witnesses to Trump’s scheme.

“Don’t wait for the book. Don’t wait ’til March 17, when it is in black and white to find out the answer to your question,” Schiff told the Senate.

The book may never come out, however, if the White House has its way. They have objected to what they describe as “significant amounts of classified information” in the manuscript, including at the top-secret level. Bolton and his attorney have insisted the book contains no such classified information.

Only a very few GOP senators are expected to resist the McConnell push for no witnesses and fast acquittal. They are Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Maine’s Susan Collins, and Utah’s Mitt Romney, short of the four needed to force witnesses to be called.

GOP senators are being warned by McConnell that if they bolt the party line they can be in for lots of trouble, including political hell to pay, and that it is stupid to do so on the issue of witnesses anyway since the fix is in and Trump will be acquitted.

“I think Bolton probably has something to offer us,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. She met privately Wednesday with McConnell.

It appears McConnell will let her and Collins off the hook, Romney will probably join them since he does not have to worry about Trump hurting him in Utah where he has a powerful base in the Mormon Church.

The three were the only GOP senators who asked pointed questions to the GOP defense team.

The weakness in the logic of the Trump defense lawyers was out in the open frequently yesterday.

They could not answer, for example,  when Collins and Murkowski asked whether Trump had ever pursued Biden investigations before the former vice president announced his presidential bid in 2019.

In another example, Dershowitz could not explain why he has flip-flopped on his views about impeachment from the position he took 20 years ago. All he could say was that he continues to “refine” his views.


CONTRIBUTOR

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

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