Lamar Alexander said that Donald Trump engaged in ‘inappropriate’ behavior as though he had yelled at a guest at a swanky Mar-a-Lago dinner or forgotten to thank someone for a gift. Thanks to Alexander, Trump will get off scot-free for his Ukraine caper. He won’t even have to endure the indignity of watching his former national security adviser John Bolton lace into him for making goo-goo eyes at Russian president Vladimir Putin and for attempting to work over Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
For Democrats, Alexander’s refusal, or, if you prefer, failure, to stand up to Trump and vote for any witnesses was confirmation that the GOP has completely gone to POT — the Party of Trump. Alexander stated that the charges were true but no big deal: ‘There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a “mountain of overwhelming evidence.”’ Democrats, by contrast, are sounding alarms over the alacrity of Senate Republicans to wave away the charges. Nancy Pelosi said today that Trump poses ‘a clear and present danger’. The Fifth Avenue presidency, we are told, is about to emerge. With his acquittal, likely on Friday, Trump will be unbound. He’ll be free to launch a Justice Department investigation of Adam Schiff. He can sell Alaska to Russia. And so on.
There can be no doubting that Trump will go very to settle scores — watch for him to out the whistleblower and unleash (not that he needs all that much unleashing) Attorney General William P. Barr on James Comey—but he’s actually in a pretty exuberant mood at the moment, at least according to Ryan Lizza. Lizza notes that at his rally in Des Moines, Iowa last night Trump was on a roll. A credulous crowd lapped up his monologue and roared with laughter at his eviscerations of his Democratic opponents. According to Lizza, ‘with Trump in power, presiding over peace and prosperity, on the cusp of beating two articles of impeachment, and dominating the news when it should be the Democratic candidates’ moment to shine, his fans seemed in a celebratory mood.’
Now that they’ve failed to topple Trump — always a long shot — the hope of Nancy Pelosi and Co. is that Republican senators will come under fire. Leading NeverTrumpers are prognosticating a backlash against the hasty acquittal of Trump. The charges of a cover-up will likely rouse more Democrats to vote in 2020. By the same token, however, Trump is exploiting impeachment to retain his own claim to be the anti-establishment candidate defying the nefarious machinations of the deep state. It isn’t just Republicans who he can cow into submission with his rodomontade. The prospect of several Democratic senators such as Doug Jones and Joe Manchin voting to acquit Trump cannot be discounted.
How sweet it must be for Mitch McConnell! No one has done more to bolster Trump’s fortunes than him. McConnell not only helped to ensure that Trump became president by quashing President Obama’s Merrick Garland nomination, but also stewarded the impeachment trial to ensure that it became a damp squib. But before he becomes too complacent, Trump should remember that it looks like he may be facing a new threat. If Bernie Sanders knocks out Joe Biden in Iowa, he could set the stage for Mike Bloomberg, the candidate that Trump not only loathes but also probably fears more than anyone.