Democrat lawmakers, as their partisan impeachment effort near a climax, are seeking to delegitimize U.S. President Donald Trump’s looming acquittal in the Senate trial.
Democrats argue that without new witnesses and additional evidence, a vote to acquit President Trump of the impeachment articles approved in the House by a party-line vote would be meaningless. No Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump. Meanwhile, it appears Trump’s acquittal may draw the support of some moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin from West Virginia, making it bipartisan.
Republicans are intent on exonerating the president this week.
The vote to allow new witnesses and additional evidence, expected soon, appears all but defeated, a move that would result in the Senate moving to acquit Trump. Democrats seem angry that their impeachment effort failed. They are trying to delay the inevitable — Trump’s exoneration.
“You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial. You don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation and all of that,” Pelosi (D-CA) declared during her weekly press conference Thursday. “Does the president know right from wrong? I don’t think so.”
A trial “without the evidence, without witnesses and documents would render the president’s acquittal meaningless,” Schumer added that day.
“Any conclusion that doesn’t allow witnesses and documents is going to make the president’s acquittal — if it should happen — worth very, very little. Zero,” Schumer added on Wednesday, later stressing, “You can’t convince the American people it was an acquittal if you don’t have witnesses and documents.”
Echoing House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, some of his fellow impeachment managers arguing in favor of convicting Trump in the Senate also stressed that a trial with no new witnesses would amount to an illegitimate acquittal.
“If witnesses are not called here, these proceedings will be a trial in name only, and the American people clearly know a fair trial when they see one,” Rep. Val Delmings (D-FL) said Friday.
Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), another House Democrat manager, reportedly added:
Whatever you say about this trial, there cannot be an exoneration without hearing from those witnesses. An acquittal on an incomplete record after a trial lacking witnesses and evidence will be no exoneration. It will be no vindication, not for the president, not for this chamber, and not for the American people.
Last Sunday, Schiff, the leading manager, told NBC News, “If they [Republicans] are successful in depriving the country of a fair trial, there is no exoneration. Americans will recognize that the country did not get what the founders intended.”
Trump’s defense team has repeatedly argued that the Senate should not call on more witnesses, noting that the House should have presented a complete case before moving proceedings to the upper chamber.
No one rushed the House to impeach Trump and move on to the Senate trial. However, they insisted on doing so before Christmas, months ahead of a presidential election in November 2020.
Trump’s team also acknowledged that legal fights over additional witnesses could extend a chapter in Congress that many Republicans have been eager to close for months.
Ironically, the Democrats’ effort to impeach Trump over allegedly trying to influence the upcoming elections will likely have an impact on voters.
In other words, Democrats may end up doing what they are accusing Trump of trying to do — interfering in the 2020 presidential elections.
For weeks, Democrats have claimed that the Senate cannot acquit Trump without new witnesses and additional evidence, adding that a lack of additional testimony would render the trial unfair.
On December 29, Sen. Chis Van Hollen (D-MD) accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) of rigging the trial to benefit Trump.
During an interview with ABC News, Van Hollen asked, “Is Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, going to try to rig this trial, working in lockstep with the president and his lawyers? Or is he going to allow a fair trial?”
“We keep hearing President Trump say he’s going to be exonerated,” he continued. “Look, if you have a rigged trial there’s no exoneration in acquittal.”
“There cannot be a true acquittal if there’s not been a fair trial,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said MSNBC on Friday.
Some pro-Democrat pundits joined in this week, parroting their allies’ argument that no witnesses amounts to no exoneration.
“It’s not a real trial, and it’s not a real exoneration,” Kirsten Powers, a USA Today columnist and CNN contributor, said on the cable news network Thursday.
"It's not a real trial and it's not a real exoneration," @KirstenPowers says.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 31, 2020
Jennifer Rubin, self-described “conservative opinion writer” at the Washington Post and contributor at the left-wing MSNBC outlet, said on Twitter on January 24:
In behaving as they have, Republicans are managing not only to deprive the president of a legitimate acquittal in the eyes of Americans (who overwhelmingly want a real trial), but also to convince voters that Republicans should not be entrusted with power.
In behaving as they have, Republicans are managing not only to deprive the president of a legitimate acquittal in the eyes of Americans (who overwhelmingly want a real trial), but also to convince voters that Republicans should not be entrusted with power. https://t.co/dpuzJ9rIA5
— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) January 24, 2020
There is little doubt the Republican majority in the Senate will vote to exonerate Trump.