Trump’s impeachment trial ended in the only way it really could. On Saturday, I was shocked by a push notification declaring the trial was coming to a sudden close after a brief skirmish over calling witnesses; once that initial shock wore off, I found myself in the familiar place of not being at all surprised that a man whose entire professional life was one long grift once again escaped accountability.
Despite a clear and bi-partisan majority voting to convict, enough Republicans hid behind bullshit about process and procedure instead of simply doing the right thing. It was, after all, a foregone conclusion that the trial would end in such a shameful display of how one man reshaped an entire political party to serve his ego.
Between the election last November and January 6, I’d resigned myself to thinking of the lame duck president as a loser with waning power who would be facing any number of criminal trials. The Trump insurrection changed all of that and showed just how dangerous someone so criminally stupid could be when granted not just the hard power of the federal government but the influence and a megaphone.
Margaret Sullivan details how the spectacle was a “moment of truth” that wasn’t:
It was this pervasive culture of lying that made it politically untenable for so many Republican senators, in the end, to vote their underdeveloped consciences. The muscles had atrophied, if they ever existed.
For if they voted to convict, their constituents — far from giving them credit for doing their patriotic duty — would turn on them. Perhaps viciously. Perhaps violently. And with the incitement, no doubt, of the twice-impeached president.
Sullivan ends more optimistic than I am — that the evidence is overwhelming and damning, and “even though the truth didn’t prevail, some of it managed to see the light of day.” I was angry there weren’t witnesses, though I’ve cooled a bit on that and am resigned to Congress needing to get on with the work in the face of total intransigence (Daniel Goldman, former lead counsel on the House Impeachment Inquiry made some good points about the futility of calling witnesses).
David Frum, someone whose politics are quite apart from my own but who’s been a constant and consistent anti-Trump voice, thinks Trump still lost and is going to keep losing. Even without an impeachment conviction, Trump still faces some number of civil and criminal trials. Given that Frum’s former boss managed to escape any kind of accountability in the interest of “moving on”, I’m not exactly optimistic we’ve learned much.