With the final vote on the articles of impeachment against the rogue president Donald Trump scheduled for tomorrow, the two highest-ranking members of each party took to the Senate floor today to explain their positions before the final vote and ahead of tonight’s State of the Union address — only the second time in U.S. history that a president still under the cloud of impeachment will be making that annual speech.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — who even before the official trial began had undermined the required oath he would later take to “do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: so help me God” by declaring “I’m not an impartial juror” — may as well have been grinning like a Cheshire cat as he condemned the entire impeachment process in the “sober and stable Senate” as a partisan attack on the president and the American electoral process.
Calling Trump’s trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress the “most rushed, least fair and least thorough presidential impeachment inquiry in American history” as if he had no hand in the matter — despite having engineered the speed and lack of further witnesses and evidence himself — Senator McConnell continued to pretend that the trial was about upending the results of the 2016 presidential election rather than the crimes that even members of his own caucus admit that Trump is clearly guilty of committing.
“Washington Democrats think President Donald Trump committed a high crime or misdemeanor the moment he defeated Hillary Clinton,” Leader McConnell said. “That is the original sin of this presidency: that he won and they lost.”
Demonstrating that the Majority Leader has been infected by the same predilection for the projection of his own thoughts and motives onto his opposition that is a hallmark of Donald Trump, Senator McConnell insulted the intelligence of the American people by declaring:
“It insults the intelligence of the American people to pretend this was a solemn process reluctantly begun because of withheld foreign aid,” said the man who publicly dedicated himself to the obstruction of President Obama from the moment he took office.
To hear this from a man who refused to even consider President Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee in his last year in office demonstrated the unmitigated arrogance of McConnell and the entire Republican party as they prepare to ignore Trump’s proven violations of constitutional authority and undermine the very basis for the rule of law and the impeachment process itself by allowing the executive branch to refuse to honor congressional subpoenas and evade accountability for their massive corruption.
On the other side of the aisle, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) didn’t need much time to rebut McConnell’s risible defense of the official Republican position on the legitimacy of both the impeachment process and the specific charges lodged against Donald Trump.
Calling the case presented by the House Impeachment Managers as led by C0ngressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) “compelling,” Senator Schumer reiterated his condemnation of Senate Republicans for simultaneously claiming that the trial was rushed, unfair, and not thorough while voting against hearing from additional witnesses such as former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton who could provide first-hand evidence of the president’s guilt.
Saying that the trial as conducted under the GOP’s rules “fails the laugh test,” Schumer said that the reason for the Republican efforts to truncate the trial was simple.
“The Republicans refused to get the evidence because they were afraid of what it would show,” the New York senator said, “and that’s all that needs to be said.”
Other senators are likely to explain their positions and the reasons for the vote they will cast tomorrow as the day progresses, but the statements from the two party leaders in the Senate chambers summarize the opposing views quite tidily.
The Democrats look at the facts of Trump’s actions and the testimony of credible long-serving, patriotic civil servants and see a self-serving president willing to violate the law and the Constitution to enhance his chances of winning a second term.
Republicans dissemble to find any excuse to keep Trump and themselves in power, distorting reality in the most ludicrous fashion with the hopes that their efficient right-wing media machine will spread and repeat their lies frequently enough that low-information voters will continue to believe them.
Original reporting by Catie Edmondson at The New York Times.