The most dangerous place on earth, Bob Dole wisely observed, is between Chuck Schumer and the TV cameras.

Not surprisingly, while Mitch McConnell usually gets his way, Schumer gets the headlines and TV coverage.

Schumer did that again today with his demand for a “fair” trial, meaning to Schumer that Democrats get to reopen the investigation of Trump during the trial, including calling witnesses who did not testify, and doing the job the House Democrats failed to do. A do-over.

That’s not usually the way trials work — the pleading of claims and discovery takes place before the trial. House Democrats chose not to do that for key witnesses they wanted — including John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney — because forcing them to testify in the House would have meant court litigation. Democrats were on a timetable driven by the 2020 election that did not allow for a court to decide the clash of branches, so they went with what they had.

Schumer and Senate Democrats know that what the House had is not enough to get 20 Republican Senators to vote against Trump — they may not even get one. So the trial takes on a different purpose — to seek evidence and to prolong impeachment investigations for the remainder of the election year based on “new evidence” discovered during the trial.

Byron York astutely observes that Senate Democrats are taking the same approach they took in trying to block Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination:

If Schumer gets what he wants, it seems hard to believe that will be the end of it. The request for more witnesses appears designed to lead not to closure but to reopening the case against Trump. In this way, if Democrats can introduce new testimony in the trial, they can say the new testimony has raised new questions that will require new investigation. And new investigation will require more new witnesses, which will surely lead to more new questions, which …

Call it the Brett Kavanaugh model of impeachment. During the Supreme Court justice’s confirmation process, a hearing had already been held, and Kavanaugh appeared on the way to joining the court. Then, up popped a new allegation, the Christine Blasey Ford story, and Democrats demanded the case be reopened, witnesses be interviewed, evidence be gathered, and time be taken for more investigation. Republicans acceded to those demands, and the Kavanaugh confirmation careened off course for a while before GOP lawmakers finally got it back on track….

The bottom line is, Republicans should not believe for one minute that the campaign to remove the president will rely only on the case Democrats have built in the House. Schumer and other party leaders will scramble for new information to throw at the president, and at Republicans, until it is over. The GOP, and the White House, need to be ready.

Senate Democrats proved themselves to be misleading and dishonest demagogues during the Kavanaugh hearings. Expect the same at a Senate impeachment trial.

One “rational” approach would be not to appease Schumer and others who are not interested in the least in fairness, but seek to “Kavanaugh” the impeachment trial, to keep tight control on the procedure and witnesses, and to treat the trial as a real trial. That is the approach reportedly favored by McConnell and many other Republican Senators.

Against that, however, is a Republican grassroots desire to call Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, Adam Schiff, members of the House Intelligence Committee staff who interacted with the purported “whistleblower,” and the “whistleblower” himself. In other words, to make the trial a discovery tool, but as to how impeachment was cooked up and as to the Democratic corruption at the heart of Trump’s concerns.

Turning the trial into a free-for-all is risky. But I bet it’s what a lot of readers want in their hearts. It may also be what Trump wants in his heart, but he has proven to be far more cautious a player than his persona or Twitter account would suggest.

I’m guessing, but not betting, that Mitch will prevail and Trump will go along, and we’ll have a tightly controlled short trial in which there are few surprises, and the foregone conclusion remains the conclusion. McConnell will keep the Republicans in line to overturn any ruling by Chief Justice Roberts that would allow expansion of the allegations. Schumer may get his four witnesses so that Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney stay on board, but that will be it.

But there will be theatrics along the way, and the space between Chuck Schumer and the TV cameras will be more dangerous than ever.

 

 
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