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Trump Trial Poised to Reach Predictable End in Senate: He Did It, So What?


House Democrats proved their case but it doesn’t matter–the Republican senator arguably most important for a vote to call new witnesses concluded on Thursday night. Retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) composed a lengthy and remarkable Twitter thread explaining his rationale for backing the Mitch McConnell-led Senate’s effort to block new witnesses with first-hand knowledge of relevant events from testifying at President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

Some of what Alexander had to say was surprising considering the Trump defenses of “it was a perfect call,” and Democrats have whipped up yet another “hoax” and “con job” to kneecap his presidency. Alexander called this impeachment “partisan” but he didn’t call it a hoax, and he didn’t say the president acted appropriately by holding up military aid to leverage Ukraine into investigating the Bidens. He said that it was “proven” that this happened and that it was “inappropriate,” but not impeachable.

Let’s break down the Alexander rationale tweet by tweet, because–if the opposition’s response to his thread is representative of broad outrage–this vote may be remembered inside the Beltway for a long time.

1, 2: We don’t need to hear from new witnesses because the Democrats’ case has been proven, and it’s a case that doesn’t accuse the president of something impeachable. He went on TV and admitted he asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, and the memo of the July 25 call also shows this.

3, 4: No more witnesses needed because it’s clear Trump withheld congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine “at least in part” to pressure Ukraine into investigating or announcing investigations of the Bidens. House managers “proved this,” but it doesn’t matter because, again, this isn’t impeachable–especially the second article of impeachment accusing the president of violating the Constitution by asserting his constitutional prerogatives.

5, 6: Trump pressuring an ally foreign power under attack by Russia into investigating a political rival and the Kremlin-sponsored CrowdStrike conspiracy theory was “inappropriate,” and it’s not good for justice when “elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations.”

7, 8: “Inappropriate” does not equal “impeachable,” and the American people should decide if Trump’s actions were as bad as the House Managers said.

9, 10: Let this problem be solved by the election, we’ve heard enough.

11, 12: The House Managers “proved” Trump did this, but “even if the House charges were true” it’s not impeachable; that no House Republican voted for the articles of impeachment said it all.

13, 14: House Democrats rushed through the impeachment inquiry process, not even bothering to fight in the courts to enforce crucial subpoenas (subpoenas DOJ says are and aren’t enforceable). They now ask the Senate to issue subpoenas they declined to brawl over. If this trial goes any further, the country will be torn apart and it will allow House majorities henceforth to weaponize impeachment whenever they feel like tormenting a president of another party.

15: Congress shouldn’t do anything about this. That’s for the American people.

Alexander’s name trended in various permutations of hashtags overnight on social media, some including the word “coward.”

Those celebrating his decision:

Those sharply criticizing Alexander:

There are a few scenarios playing out right now in light of the Alexander decision: Either GOP will simply have the votes to block witnesses; or Sens. Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins will be joined at the eleventh hour by a wild card not named Alexander in a vote for witnesses; or those senators will not be joined by a wild card and there will be 50-50 tie that presiding officer Chief Justice John Roberts does nothing about.

Republican senators like Rick Scott (R-Fla.) have said it’s “likely” Trump’s acquittal will happen at some point on Friday. But will it happen?

[Image via Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.