Incitement. Insurrection. Inauguration. What we need now, on the part of Republicans in the United States Senate, is intrepidity. They would, no doubt, need to look it up. But then they’d probably have to reference the dictionary definition of the word “courage”–a synonym for intrepidity–because at least four out of five Senate Republicans have shown less political courage in the face of fact-free president 45 than a wet dish rag. At least a dish rag is handy in cleaning up a mess.
As the Senate sits in judgment of ex-president Trump in his second impeachment trial–a world record as only two other presidents have been impeached, once each, in the 244 years of our democracy–odds are that Republicans will again give the wayward president a pass. Never mind that the final verdict will most likely be a majority in favor of conviction. Without a two-thirds vote to acquit, Donald will declare the whole thing a total vindication of a partisan hoax. For once, when he proclaims his latest impeachment “the greatest injustice in the history of the universe,” he may be close to the truth if famously feckless Republicans let him off the hook. That would be the injustice.
I get it that there’s a plausible logic in arguing that a vote to convict and remove Trump from office when he’s already been succeeded by President Joe Biden is superfluous. But to call it unconstitutional is an exercise in conveniently, deliberately missing the point. Trump could have tried to dodge conviction by resigning one minute before noon, Jan. 20. But a similar gambit was tried before by a post-Civil War cabinet member. It failed. He was tried. That’s called a constitutional precedent. Someone must have clued Trump before they were fired, because he has no clue. Ever.
Chuck Schumer, now Senate majority leader, proposed an immediate trial. Mitch McConnell, now minority leader, suggested that in fairness the president should have time to prepare his defense. Yet after Trump self-exiled to Mar-a-Lago during the inauguration of Joe Biden, McConnell voted with the majority of Republican senators to argue that a post-presidency trial is unconstitutional. What do you expect from have-it-both-ways Mitch? He can argue with a straight face that with 11 months remaining in his second term, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy created by Antonin Scalia’s death should not receive even a hearing. A bit more than four years later, just weeks before Trump’s failed re-election bid, McConnell rammed through the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.