Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell are locked in a bitter disagreement because Trump wants to turn the Senate impeachment trial into a circus.
In conversations with the White House, the Kentucky Republican has made clear he hopes to end the trial as soon as he can, an effort to both get impeachment off his lap and protect his conference from potentially damaging votes should the process break out into partisan warfare. That will include a continuous whip count until McConnell feels he has the votes to acquit the President and end the show. He has even floated a 10-day minimum during these talks, one person said.
But the show is exactly what Trump wants. He’s made clear to advisers privately that rather than end the trial as quickly as possible, he is hoping for a dramatic event, according to two people familiar with his thinking. He wants Hunter Biden, Rep. Adam Schiff and the whistleblower to testify. He wants the witnesses to be live, not clips of taped depositions. And he’s hoping to turn it into a spectacle, which he thinks is his best chance to hurt Democrats in the election.
People close to the President say this is because he has been sitting back and watching as current and former aides testified for hours before lawmakers about his behavior that they described as inappropriate, problematic and potentially dangerous. Infuriated, Trump has been told he will have his day to defend himself soon, one person said.
Mitch McConnell understands that the impeachment trial is riddled with landmines for his slim three-seat Senate majority. A long and drawn out sideshow would only hurt endangered incumbent Republican Senators like Susan Collins and Cory Gardner.
Trump isn’t interested in protecting the Senate majority in 2020. He wants to see a Senate trial on television that will make him feel good. The president doesn’t have a list of witnesses that could clear him. Instead, he wants to use the impeachment trial to settle scores with people who he thinks wronged him like Adam Schiff and the whistleblower.
The president also wants to use the trial to push Biden conspiracy theories that he thinks would help his reelection campaign. McConnell is trying to do what is best for the Republican Party’s chances in 2020, while Trump is only thinking about himself.
If Trump gets his way, the impeachment trial will be a disaster for Republicans, and it will give Democrats everything that they could want, even if Trump is not convicted.
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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association