A Politico headline reads, "White House Backs Full Senate Trial If House Impeaches Trump," but I question the meaning of "White House" and "Full" in this context.
Top White House officials and Senate Republicans agreed that a full trial should be conducted if the House impeaches President Donald Trump, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.
A group of Republican senators met Thursday morning with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to discuss impeachment strategy.
Two attendees said that the White House wants the Senate to hold a trial of some length and not immediately dismiss any articles of impeachment with the GOP's majority, as some Republicans have suggested.
"A trial of some length" is not necessarily the same as a full trial -- Republicans don't appear to want a trial that's very lengthy. Here's what The Washington Post is reporting:
A group of Republican senators and senior White House officials met privately Thursday to map out a strategy for a potential impeachment trial of President Trump....
... one prominent scenario discussed, according to officials, was a trial that would last for roughly two weeks, which several Senate Republicans view as the ideal option because they believe it would be long enough to have credence without dragging on too long.
... [Some Senate Republicans] have toyed with a more drawn-out trial that has the potential to scramble the schedules of a half-dozen Democratic senators who are running for president but would be jurors in an impeachment trial.
So a two-week trial isn't meant to be a full trial -- it's merely meant to look like one. The process could theoretically go on much longer, but Republicans want to do just the bare minimum that will let them seem fair.
A complicating factor is that not everyone in the White House agrees with what Politico describes as the White House view. One prominent figure in the White House who doesn't seem happy with the idea of even a two-week trial is, um, the president, according to the Post.
But even a two-week trial could run counter to what Trump has expressed privately. The president is “miserable” about the ongoing impeachment inquiry and has pushed to dismiss the proceedings right away, according to people familiar with Trump’s sentiments.
But unfortunately for Trump...
“I don’t want them to believe there’s an ability to dismiss the case before it’s heard,” [Senator Lindsey] Graham said Thursday following the meeting with Cipollone. “I think most everybody agreed, there’s not 51 votes to dismiss it before the managers get to call the case.”
An earlier Politico story notes that Trump himself has been holding White House meetings with GOP senators, including (in a separate meeting today) Mitt Romney and Susan Collins. It seems likely that Romney, Collins, and at least one other Senate Republican think they're profiles in courage because, while they'll almost certainly vote to acquit, they're insisting on a perfunctory trial before casting their party-line votes.
A two-week trial seems like the least lib-owning option. A quick dismissal would be the ultimate bird-flip to Democrats. By contrast, in a long trial Republicans could wallow in every lunatic idea that ever crawled out of the right-wing fever swamps. That's what Charlie Pierce expects, and I'm sure it's what a lot of Republicans want:
In the majority, they will out the whistleblower. They will call Hunter Biden and very likely his old man. They will call all the litany of public servants who have haunted the minds of Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan. The trial will be a mess, and, if you don’t believe me, take a look at what Congressman Chris Stewart, Republican of Utah, had to say on Thursday.
... So I'm talking to my colleagues in the Senate, these are some of the witnesses that you need to call and these are some of the questions that you need to ask. First, you have to hear from the whistleblower....
Who did he get his information from? Did he have the classification and the clearances to get that information. What's his relationship with Vice President Biden. Who has he shared that information with, including some members of the committee here. I think our own chairman [Adam Schiff] needs to be called. What interactions did he or his staff have with the whistleblower? Did they help to coordinate or in any way facilitate the complaint? Did they coordinate and facilitate council, what about Hunter Biden, how did he get his job? What did he do to earn his salary, and here's the key to this, look if he goes there and makes money, knock yourself out. I don't care, but I want to know did he have officials or conversations with government officials and was government policy changed at a particularly high level because of some of those? Devin Archer, former board member from Burisma, Alexandria Chalupa, provided anti-Trump information to the DNC and hardship, Nelly Orr from Fusion GPS who helped create the ridiculous Steele dossier.
But how can you fit the House managers' case and all that lunacy into two weeks? Especially when the president thinks having a trial at all will bring him shame, and many of his allies just want the whole thing shut down immediately?
As impeachment moves to the Senate, I think the president will become more and more agitated about the prospect of holding a trial at all. I think he'll demand a swift dismissal, and right-wing media will echo that sentiment. MAGA Nation will decide that any Republican who even supports going through the motions of a trial is a RINO who needs to be crushed in a primary. Mitch McConnell might get to conduct a trial with the patina of fairness. But I wouldn't count on it.
Republished by permission from No More Mister Nice Blog.