Trump’s Winning Streak Has an Expiration Date

Eluding the jaws of truth twice was a miracle, but a litany of pending lawsuits means three times is all but impossible

For a few moments there on Saturday morning, it appeared as if the House impeachment managers were actually going to turn Trump’s second go-round into something resembling an actual trial.

Specifically, they wanted to bring Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in to testify about a heated call between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump during the middle of the insurrection. Calling witnesses would have established Trump’s remarks during the call (“Well, I guess Capitol rioters are more upset about the election than you are,” he’s alleged to have said to McCarthy) as a matter of the case, and would have opened the door to subpoenaing other witnesses, who would then be under oath to tell the truth about Trump’s incitement of the January 6 insurrection. A shocking concept, maybe — but also the only weapon the prosecution had left when faced with Republican senators who clearly were going to acquit Trump no matter what.

And then Democratic senators shut it down.

Apparently they had other places to be. “The jury is ready to vote,” Delaware’s Sen. Chris Coons reportedly told House Democrats. “People want to get home for Valentine’s Day.” I get that even senators want to have sex, but I’m going to remember this the next time some Democrat goes on cable news and delivers a monologue about the virtues of democracy. Despite the impeachment managers doing an exceptional job, despite the majority of the country wanting Trump convicted, the Democrats refused to persist.

Lara Trump’s only political credentials that matter to these people is that she married and procreated with Eric Trump, a man who looks like he eats with his feet.

And the way the Republicans chose to celebrate told us everything. After the insufferable, yet inevitable outcome, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell scolded Trump for behavior that he had literally just excused with his not guilty vote.

“Former President Trump’s actions that preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty,” McConnell said. He added, “Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” Call me an idealist, but I believe that when it’s time to determine a person’s responsibility for sending an angry mob to kill you, you don’t absolve them based on a technicality of your own creation.

McConnell told his Republican caucus members to vote their conscience but he voted out of his craven desire for power. Some have discussed McConnell’s hypocrisy as political gamesmanship. Yet, if McConnell is guiding the Republican Party to a post-Trump era as its de facto leader, voting to acquit the very man he holds responsible makes it clear who’s in control.

For further clarification, Trump released a statement on Tuesday that reportedly initially mocked McConnell’s chins but was taken out after his advisers convinced him to take it out. But he did manage to still dismiss McConnell as “a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.” So we’re clear, McConnell tried to walk the fine line between having a spine and being Trump’s lapdog — and was reminded that no such line exists.

Meanwhile, other Republican senators are busy kissing the Trump ring, no matter whose finger it’s on. “The biggest winner of this whole impeachment trial is Lara Trump,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Fox News Sunday when discussing Sen. Richard Burr’s vote to convict Trump. “My dear friend Richard Burr, who I like and have been friends with a long time, just made Lara Trump almost the certain nominee for the Senate Seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs, and I certainly will be behind her because she represents the future of the Republican Party.”

Lara Trump’s only political credentials that matter to these people is that she married and procreated with Eric Trump, a man who looks like he eats with his feet.

Hell, Wisconsin’s Sen. Ron Johnson has simply decided to pretend the insurrection never happened. “This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me,” he said during an interview on WISN radio’s The Jim Weber Show. “When you hear ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms?”

Fuck him today, tomorrow, and January 6, but while I wait for Johnson to lose his seat, this speaks to the problem McConnell could have staved off with a Trump conviction. If I were damn near 80 like McConnell, I would have lobbied as many votes for Trump’s conviction as possible, and then deal with the short-term political hits by taking my money and enjoying my early retirement. Unless McConnell gains control of the algorithms at Facebook and the programming over at Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN, that party will continue to belong to Donald Trump. Not even a “9/11-type commission” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning to investigate the insurrection will change that.

Unless, that is, all the other courts in the country hold Trump to account. That’s what McConnell seemed to be holding out hope for. “We have a criminal justice system in this country,” McConnell said in that same speech. “We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.”

He’s in good company. As of now, Donald Trump is facing a criminal investigation in Georgia for that call to the Georgia secretary of state where it sounded like he was trying to strong-arm the man to “find” him just enough votes to steal victory from Joe Biden (allegedly or whatever). Then there is the talk of investigations around bank and insurance fraud related to his businesses in New York. Depending on who you ask, Trump may still face charges for his role in the violation of campaign finance laws for that whole Stormy Daniels situation. There are also some civil suits related to allegations of sexual assault, in addition to a fresh one filed by the NAACP on behalf of Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi related to the insurrection. And let’s not forget the tax bill coming due: Over the next few years, Trump will owe upwards of half a billion dollars to the IRS and various creditors.

I’d like to think Trump is too corrupt, chaotic, and messy at this point to forge a meaningful political comeback, but I’ll say this: Even if he often feels too stupid for words, he managed to make impeachment a useless tool. So as much as I cling to the feeling that he’ll end up a broke bitch and pariah, it doesn’t excuse the fact that so many people have excused him along the way.

Author of “I Can’t Date Jesus” and “I Don’t Want To Die Poor.” Houstonian.

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