Jonathan Turley: Jerry Nadler made a “major blunder” by accusing Senate Republicans of engaging in a cover-up


Meh. Nadler’s a tool and ineffective in his role (which is why Schiff is guiding the Democratic case, not him) but I can’t take this argument seriously given the circumstances of the trial.

Turley’s right to note that Lisa Murkowski, a rare persuadable Republican, was annoyed at Nadler after his accusation on Tuesday night. This morning we found out that another (theoretically) persuadable Republican, Susan Collins, was so irritated that she sent John Roberts a note demanding an intervention.

In an interview on Thursday, Collins confirmed that she had jotted down a note that eventually made its way to Roberts via Secretary for the Majority Laura Dove. Collins said she believed the back and forth between House Judiciary Chairman Nadler (D-N.Y.) and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone violated Senate rules and felt compelled to point that out, even though senators are required to stay at their desks and not speak during the trial.

“It reminded me that if we were in a normal debate in the Senate, that the rule would be invoked to strike the words of the senator for impugning another senator. So I did write a note raising the issue of whether there’d been a violation of the rules,” Collins said. “I gave that note to Laura Dove and shortly thereafter the chief justice did admonish both sides. And I was glad that he did.”

You don’t insult the jury in a case you’re trying, an astonished Turley says in the clip below. Right, but what if the jury already reached its verdict before the trial started?

What if the “jury” in this case isn’t even the real jury? Schiff and Nadler know they need 20 Republican votes to remove Trump and that they’re getting two Republican votes at best, and probably not even that many. And neither of those two will be Susan Collins, who needs Republican support to win reelection in Maine next fall. The real jury is the electorate that will either give Trump another four years as president or oust him this fall. Nadler saw an early opportunity to make the point to that jury that refusing to call John Bolton would be tantamount to a cover-up, a claim which literally every Democrat in the country will be making if in fact the Collins crew declines to subpoena Bolton. He just chose to do it on the Senate floor itself, with a national audience watching. (Well, sleeping at the time but watching the clip of his remarks later.)

What’s that we keep saying about the trial? “Impeachment is a political process”? Well, that’s how Nadler treated it.

The counterargument is that, although Trump is sure to be acquitted, there’s still a real chance that Collins and Murkowski will vote with Schumer to call Bolton and other witnesses and so House Dems would be smart not to piss them off. Again: Meh. No one knows if Bolton would be a good witness for Democrats on balance or a bad one. He’ll doubtless have some criticism of the Ukraine matter, but various Democratic witnesses were critical of it during the House process and the impeachment polls barely budged. (If anything, they started tilting a bit towards Trump.) There’s no reason to believe Bolton has a game-changing secret he’s prepared to reveal. In which case, what’s the better outcome for Dems? That he testifies, says some mildly disapproving things but doesn’t incriminate Trump, and Republicans like Collins and Murkowski get credit for courageously voting to call him? Or Collins and Murkowski don’t vote to call him and then Democrats get to run around screaming “COVER-UP” and breathlessly insisting that Bolton would have exposed the whole plot?

Politically they’re better off if he isn’t called, which I suspect is part of the reason they’re so unwilling to make a Bolton-for-Hunter-Biden trade. So what harm did Nadler actually do to his side by pissing off the GOP and making the calling of witnesses less likely?

If I were Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, I’d go whole hog during my defense argument in ripping on Democrats. If that’s bad for “Senate decorum” or whatever, it’s nonetheless useful grandstanding for the jurors watching at home. Impeachment is a political process.

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