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Trump impeachment trial: 4 stories from first day spell doom for Mitch McConnell

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- Commentary

If the score was kept for the first day of the impeachment trial, it would show hefty losses for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

As Former Special Counsel for the Department of Defense, Ryan Goodman pointed out, four major headlines perfectly reflect the cracks in the stranglehold McConnell has had on his party.

First, McConnell was forced to change the impeachment hearing rules. After a huge uprising by Americans demanding to be able to watch the impeachment trial during normal human hours, senators told McConnell he’d lost the votes to hold proceedings after midnight.

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Next, McConnell and President Donald Trump’s legal team was slapped in the face with the obviousness of their lack of preparation for the first day. While the White House lawyers were prepared to try the case for Trump and come out swinging to attack Democrats, first, there was a series of votes on the rules for the trial. Either they weren’t told or they didn’t take it seriously. Democrats had prepared their case for the reason that every ounce of information should be allowed to be included in the Senate.

Third, when Republicans brought Democratic lawyer Jonathan Turley to the House to testify why the vote for impeachment was not valid, he made a compelling case that the House should wait to vote until the legal challenges played out in court. Democrats held the vote anyway. While cases are still waiting in court, some since April of last year, the House made the case that extorting a country to hack the election was an imminent threat that needed to be addressed.

Tuesday, Turley admitted that the claim that the president can’t be impeached without an explicit crime is absurd. Particularly, given the fact that the president has blocked any investigation of the potential crimes.

“In this impeachment, the House has decided to go forward on the narrowest articles with the thinnest record of a presidential impeachment in history. However, many senators may be legitimately leery of buying what the White House is selling with its categorical approach. There is a vast array of harmful and corrupt acts that a president can commit outside of the criminal code.

“… The developing defense by the White House is also a mistake. It would again ‘expand the space for executive conduct’ by reducing the definition of impeachable conduct to the criminal code. It is an argument that is as politically unwise as it is constitutionally shortsighted.”

Finally, it became painfully obvious that Trump’s legal team was willing and eager to lie to the U.S. Senate and the American people about the facts of the case.

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Before Chief Justice John Roberts, the White House lawyers said that Republicans were barred from participating in the classified depositions. Republicans are actually quoted asking questions in those depositions, so it’s clear they were in attendance. A full 100 members of Congress were able to attend, even if they chose not to.

It all came together for a terrible day for McConnell and the president.

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While McConnell may feel good that he was able to keep witnesses and evidence out of the impeachment trial so far, at what cost has it come to his endangered Republicans? Even Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was hedging after her vote.

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