After three long years and a litany of crimes later, the seemingly inevitable impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump has finally begun. Yet what should be a moment of triumph for justice and the rule of law in this country is clouded by a pall of impotent frustration and resignation as the nation slowly grapples with the realization that all the evidence in the world could not change the predetermined outcome.
The beginning of the trial saw the president’s lawyers put on the same kind of preposterous dog-and-pony show that we’ve seen at every single Congressional hearing related to Trump’s myriad misdeeds: bluster, huffy pearl-clutching indignance, a wild abuse of the truth and the mainstreaming of dark web conspiracy theories.
The president’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, inadvertently highlighted the crux of the issue when he said that “what had taken place in these proceedings is not to be confused with due process.”
Due process begins with the reasonable expectation that the arguments and evidence presented in the trial will be taken into consideration when determining the outcome, but so far Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus have made it clear that there is nothing that will stop them from acquitting the President — but just to make sure, they will do everything in their power to avoid having to hear it.
While the Democrats have been putting together an impassioned and convincing case explaining how the President’s actions have violated the law, Republicans have gone out of their way to make as much of a mockery of this trial as they possibly could, behaving like spoiled children and relentlessly complaining about how bored they were with the lack of new evidence.
So far, Republican Senators have fallen asleep, wandered off without permission, played with fidget spinners, drawn pictures and read books. They dawdled at dinner and had the nerve to complain about how boring and repetitive it all was despite having spent the first evening killing a succession of amendments that would have allowed them to subpoena new witnesses and documents.
“So far what Schiff has said we’ve heard before” complained Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN). “So far we haven’t heard anything new from what he heard yesterday,” echoed Sen. John Cornyn. “Senators are struggling to try to see why we have to sit there, sit hearing the same arguments over and over and over and over again.”
When Sen. John Barrasso was asked by CNN’s Manu Raju why they wouldn’t just subpoena new witnesses if they wanted to hear something new, Barrasso quickly passed the buck to the House, saying that they should have brought in the witnesses before sending the articles to a trial knowing full well that the White House refused to allow its staff to testify.
Crocodile tear meltdowns were also thrown over how offended they were that Rep. Jerry Nadler had correctly accused them of participating in a cover-up of the President’s crimes by refusing to hear any evidence and behaving as if the trial had a predetermined conclusion.
As if the past week of impeachment hearings hadn’t seen enough surreal and astonishing defenses of the president by his sycophantic GOP supporters, Monday saw the very concept of irony murdered by hypocrisy on the floor of the Senate.
No other words can possibly describe how wild it was to watch one of the most infamously corrupt prosecutors in American history, Pam Bondi, attempt to lecture the nation about the corruption of the Biden family in defense of a President whose children have made $81 million while working in the White House.
Yes, the very same Pam Bondi who personally solicited an illegal $25,000 bribe for one of her political support groups from the Trump Foundation in exchange for shutting down an investigation into the Trump University real estate “training program” scam.
Who followed up her defense in the Trump trial? Oh, none other than Alan Dershowitz, a close confidant of serial child rapist Jeffrey Epstein who himself has been accused of having sex with underage girls at Epstein’s direction.
The culmination of this circus of absurdity saw Dershowitz sincerely arguing that there is literally nothing the president could do that would be impeachable so long as he thought he was doing it for the good of the country.
For the Trump team to trot out these despicable clowns to deliver this insultingly nonsensical defense speaks to the utter contempt they’ve treated this entire process with and how slavishly the Republican Party has fallen over itself to please and protect their master, no matter the cost.
At every turn, the Republicans have treated the President’s abuses of power — which they all more or less agree he did — like the indulgent excesses of a particularly boisterous toddler and treated their counterparts across the aisle with nothing but naked scorn and palpable hostility. It’s clear that there is no law too sacred and no crime too heinous for them to put aside their partisan blood oath and risk a single iota of power.
This is the lowest, most disgraceful moment in the history of the United States Senate — and with it a wake-up call that this obsolete and counterproductive institution is in dire need of reform.
For over ten years, the Senate has been nothing but a legislative graveyard where the lickspittles of the oligarchy keep this country in a stranglehold without consequence or retribution. Right now, over 250 House-passed bills sit on the docket in the Senate with the Speaker obstinately refusing to bring them up for a vote.
We’ve watched in fury as Senate Republicans spent eight years blocking President Obama’s entire agenda and then denied him the Supreme Court nominee that he was entitled to. We’ve watched the death toll from mass shootings skyrocket and every kind of widely popular common-sense gun legislation join the toddlers of Sandy Hook in the grave because of Senate Republicans. Now we’re watching them piss on the Constitution and then must endure them telling us that we’re the ones at fault here.
The Senate has been exposed as a broken institution that allows a tiny minority of radicals to hold the entire nation hostage, and it’s clear that the Democratic Party and the next President needs to seriously begin planning radical action to permanently break the yoke of Mitch McConnell and his lapdogs.
The United States Senate was not created for it to insulate a tyrant from the consequences of his actions, but that’s exactly what it is now doing. The founding of the United States was an existential blow that eventually led to toppling of European monarchies, but now those same democratic institutions that struck fear in the hearts of the powdered and wigged class are demonstrating to the whole world that the President of the United States cannot be held accountable for anything he says or does.
Trump is now an infallible king propped up by his loyal courtiers, his power only constrained by his laziness, the few remaining courts that haven’t been jam-packed with psychotic MAGA zealots, and the term limits which he constantly “jokes” about ignoring.
If Democrats should win the White House in 2020, we must immediately begin taking action to remake the Senate and geld it of its ability to strangle our republic in such outrageous fashion.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.