In case you didn’t know, the no­to­ri­ous DJT is on trial

Antelope Valley Press - - OPINION - Mau­reen Dowd Commentary

Repub­li­cans know very well who they are. That’s why it was such a juicy mo­ment when Ha­keem Jef­fries, the con­gress­man from Brook­lyn and Demo­cratic im­peach­ment man­ager, quoted a lyric by fel­low B-town na­tive son Big­gie Smalls to re­but Jay Seku­low when the pres­i­dent’s lawyer disin­gen­u­ously won­dered, “Why are we here?”

Re­fer­ring to the Democrats’ crys­tal-clear case that Don­ald Trump abused his power and cor­rupted the high­est of­fice in the land, Jef­fries pro­claimed, “And if you don’t know, now you know.”

I went to the press gallery one af­ter­noon to check out the tableau vivant.

The visi­tors’ gallery was only half full, and there was none of the pas­sion and tit­il­la­tion that in­fused the Clin­ton im­peach­ment, which also, oddly enough, re­volved around a power dis­par­ity be­tween two people.

One Demo­cratic Se­nate staffer mourned the ap­a­thy. “Our phones aren’t ring­ing,” he told me. “No­body cares. It’s the sad­dest thing ever.”

One side of the room seemed to be smirk­ing.

Mitch McCon­nell is re­sort­ing to his Mer­rick Gar­land play­book.

He’ll let the Democrats make all their noble points, but it’s Kabuki. Repub­li­cans have per­fected the dark art of “There’s noth­ing to see here, just keep mov­ing.” McCon­nell long ago chore­ographed the end, with Democrats los­ing the ar­gu­ment and the ac­quit­ted scoundrel tri­umphantly sweep­ing into the Capi­tol to make his State of the Union ad­dress.

At night, tipsy Repub­li­can staffers treated Se­nate of­fice build­ings as a pub crawl, roam­ing the halls with cel­e­bra­tory bot­tles of wine.

Some Repub­li­cans were pay­ing at­ten­tion at the trial — or wanted to be seen pay­ing at­ten­tion. Su­san Collins was glued to the pro­ceed­ings, as was the sen­a­tor to her left in a magma-col­ored shawl, Lisa Murkowski. Repub­li­cans like Collins who are vul­ner­a­ble in 2020 have to be alert and fig­ure out how to find their way out of the hear­ings with­out do­ing more po­lit­i­cal harm.

A Trump confidant told CBS

News that Repub­li­can se­na­tors were warned, “Vote against the pres­i­dent and your head will be on a pike.”

Seated at the back of the class, Mitt Rom­ney looked du­ti­ful, and the thought must have crossed his mind that’s he’s in a po­si­tion to in­flict pay­back on Trump for call­ing him “a pompous ass” and trick­ing him into an in­ter­view for sec­re­tary of state only to hu­mil­i­ate him. (Re­venge is a dish best served with milk.)

But more se­na­tors on the Repub­li­can side were tele­graph­ing bore­dom.

Lind­sey Gra­ham yawned and re­ar­ranged his yel­low pen­cil and went on walk­a­bouts, later telling re­porters, “About the fourth time you tell me the same thing is twice too much.” He cleaved to his lap-dog role, say­ing pre­pos­ter­ously of Trump: “What he wants to do is get to the truth.”

Tom Cot­ton played with the fid­get spin­ner Richard Burr had handed out to all the Repub­li­cans. Mar­sha Black­burn and oth­ers left to trash the pro­ceed­ings on Fox News.

The se­na­tors in the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial race could not have been happy to be stuck there, ei­ther. Bernie San­ders, ac­cus­tomed to mak­ing like Leonard Bern­stein at big ral­lies and up­set he’s not in Iowa to rel­ish his surge, had a hard time keep­ing his hands still, mov­ing them rest­lessly, silently clap­ping, and fi­nally hold­ing them to­gether on his ch­est over his blue sweater.

But heads on both sides did snap to at­ten­tion when­ever that unholy, jan­gly, self-im­peach­ing peal, so in­escapable in the last three years, rang out in the hal­lowed cham­ber. Trump’s voice was im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore when the House im­peach­ment man­agers played in­crim­i­nat­ing video clips of the hu­man fid­get spin­ner him­self, some­times howl­ing over the blades of his chop­per on the South Lawn.

So many people in this very room had tried and failed, or are now try­ing, to van­quish the guy. Rom­ney, Cruz, Ru­bio, Gra­ham, Klobuchar, San­ders, Ben­net, Booker, Gil­li­brand, War­ren, Harris. Trump had sav­aged all his fel­low Repub­li­cans and yet here they were lis­ten­ing to an un­end­ing recita­tion of his crimes and com­ing out to be his Prae­to­rian guard.

Adam Schiff tried to warn the for­mer neme­ses turned de­fend­ers of Trump that if the pres­i­dent is not re­moved, he could turn on them the way he had turned on Marie Yo­vanovitch and Joe Bi­den, us­ing the power of the pres­i­dency to cheat, lie and smear. (Now Rudy’s buddy Lev Par­nas says he has forked over to con­gres­sional Democrats a 2018 record­ing of Trump per­son­ally or­der­ing Yo­vanovitch to be fired.)

“The next time, it just may be you,” Schiff told the Repub­li­can se­na­tors. “Do you think he wouldn’t ask you to be in­ves­ti­gated? Do you think for a mo­ment that he wouldn’t?”

Schiff also re­minded Repub­li­cans that Trump had in­verted their dogma, em­brac­ing the Evil Em­pire and au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism and trust­ing Crazy Rudy’s con­spir­acy the­o­ries over his own in­tel­li­gence ser­vices.

“You don’t re­al­ize how im­por­tant char­ac­ter is in the high­est of­fice in the land un­til you don’t have it,” Schiff said.

But the more impressive the Democrats’ case is, the more de­press­ing the re­al­ity be­comes. They want to con­vince them­selves that char­ac­ter mat­ters. But many Amer­i­cans knew they were vot­ing for a thug.

They wanted a thug who would bust up Wash­ing­ton, and they got one.

The Democrats are re­ly­ing on facts, but the Repub­li­cans are re­ly­ing on Fox.

And if you don’t know, now you know.

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