President Trump, who appears to have ice running through his veins, must be sensing that the impeachment fight, which he is still very likely to win, is getting much more complicated than he would like. Since the House of Representatives impeached the President in December, the President has endured even more headaches than he had previously. He may have spent the holidays on the golf course at Mar-a-Lago and he may have given the orders to kill Qasem Suleimani, but his fight to insure that the U.S. Senate will not convict him, has never been far from his mind.
The President is frustrated whenever he cannot control an agenda or dictate the rules of engagement. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have elevated the pressure to force the President to answer more questions. Trump undoubtedly must be infuriated as until yesterday the Democrats controlled the conversation about the impeachment process.
First, his former national security adviser John Bolton announced that he would respond to a Senate subpoena to testify during the impeachment trial and now Lev Parnes has delivered a set of documents to the media and the House Intelligence Committee. This trove of material appears to go much further in implicating Rudy Giuliani and President Trump in the Ukrainian extortion initiative. While Parnes’s effort can be viewed as self-serving—given his guilty plea in federal court on another matter–it certainly appears that the documents he is providing are incontrovertible.
The nature of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ability to control the Senate, based largely on the President’s urging, clearly suggests that the impeachment trial could move expeditiously through the Senate; although perhaps not as quickly as was previously hoped for by the President. With the actual trial to begin on Tuesday, January 21, the Senators face several specific events which could distract the American people. On Monday, February 3, Iowa will hold the first caucus in the battle for the Democratic nomination and on February 11, New Hampshire will hold its primary. On February 4, President Trump is booked to deliver his State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress. Next week, as the trial will commence, President Trump is scheduled to attend the World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland.
All of this activity suggests the possibility that Trump’s rock-solid control over Senate Republicans might erode if the news continues to go south. There is no indication at this time that any of the potential Senate mavericks or leaders are ready to challenge the President. Freshman Senator Mitt Romney continues to be timid; retiring Senator Lamar Alexander has no stake yet remains quiet; and a number of very vulnerable GOP Senators appear to believe that they have more to lose if they challenge the President than if they comply with his spin.
Whatever magic Trump has spun over the Republican Party it appears to be sticking. The probability that the President will be convicted is unlikely. Events in the next few weeks could change this scenario. Should the facts build up against Trump over the next few weeks, it is not clear that the Senate has a leader—like the Party had in Senators Barry Goldwater or Hugh Scott in 1974—who are prepared to speak out defiantly on behalf of the country and against the Republican Party. Today’s GOP has lost its willingness to put the Constitution and the law ahead of Party.