White House impeachment defense still in flux, because Trump still wants his Senate clown show
The Wall Street Journal has a look at White House counsel and Ukraine cover-up accessory Pat Cipollone’s efforts to steer Donald Trump through the speediest and rigged-est Senate impeachment trial that can be managed. As usual, the most noteworthy parts are the hints that, no matter what Cipollone wants, he is constrained by what he can get the great orange buffoon to agree to. And the great orange buffoon wants a clown show.
Cipollone’s status as head of the White House impeachment defense seems secure, according to the Journal, but the Oval Office Hate Pumpkin wants lawyers on his team with more “television experience.” “Under consideration are Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s personal lawyers, and Alan Dershowitz,” reports the Journal, while noting that Dershowitz currently is fighting an Epstein-related rape allegation. (Other White Houses would almost certainly avoid such a figure; Trump, accused of rape himself, of course has no such inhibitions.)
Also still being contemplated as part of the Senate impeachment defense team: Trump’s “staunchest defenders” among the House Republicans that humiliated themselves during the House Judiciary and Intelligence committee impeachment hearings. We can take that to mean, no doubt, crime-auctioneer Doug Collins, the ever-coatless Jim Jordan, and whoever else yelled the loudest. It is less likely to include Rep. Devin Nunes, who did not disclose during those impeachment hearings that he had direct involvement in the Ukraine schemes himself, via the now-indicted Lev Parnas. Nunes has been keeping a considerably lower profile since that tidbit was outed, and probably does not want to be anywhere near Senate questioners right now.
So, the short version: clown show. Donald Trump wants a clown show. He wants it to be staffed by people he has seen on his television set, because those are the only people he trusts, and White House counsel Cipollone may or may not have enough clout to talk him out of it. Senate Republicans do not want a clown show, because the longer a trial drags on, the more tenuous their claims of not knowing or understanding the evidence against Trump, including that provided by numerous witnesses, become. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still unabashedly assuring the public that the fix is in and the trial, if there is one, will be dispensed with in short order; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still putting a hold on transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate in an effort to pressure McConnell into at least pretending to not be as corkscrew-crooked as he is.
The longer Pelosi holds up the Senate trial, the more irate Trump is likely to get. The more irate Trump gets, the more likely it is he will lose his temper with Cipollone, as he has with seemingly every single other White House official who has ever tried to stop him from doing Stupid Things, and instead put some shouting television idiot in charge.
And that’s assuming no new evidence comes out in the next few weeks that highlights, yet again, how brazenly illegal the White House understood Trump’s Ukraine orders to be. The odds of no such evidence popping up? Near zero.