Heading into the final day of his effort to build a devastating case, the indefatigable California Democrat is deploying every trick in the prosecutor’s arsenal as he weaves a narrative of an unchained presidency hour after grueling hour. Schiff became emotional late on Thursday as he pleaded with Republican senators to turn against their President, arguing that America would be “lost” if the truth of Trump’s conduct in Ukraine did not emerge.
“You know you can’t trust this President to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He will do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to,” Schiff said.
After Friday, Schiff will cede the stage to Trump’s lawyers, who plan to argue that the President did nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine and that the Democratic charge that he abused his power has no constitutional significance.
As long as Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell does not lose the votes of four of his members, he can block a Democratic effort to prolong the trial by subpoenaing witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
That leaves Schiff, like an advocate singling out the most impressionable members of a jury in a courtroom drama, forever working on swing state senators handed tough races by Trump’s unpopularity and Republicans uncomfortable with their leader’s refusal to explore new testimony and evidence.
Schiff is appealing to their sense of constitutional duty and to those who dream of a unique place in history. He’s playing on the Senate’s sense of self-importance, suggesting it as the only venue sufficiently wise to try the case.
The former prosecutor is also pleading with senators to be more jealous of their own power, warning that Trump’s stonewalling tactics are robbing Congress of its prestige and role.
“If the Senate allows the President to get away with such extensive obstruction, it will affect the Senate’s power of subpoena and oversight just as much as the House,” Schiff said.
Playing video of public officials expressing shock in House hearings after Twitter bullying by Trump over their testimony, Schiff seems to be appealing especially to the senators’ humanity.
“If they could show the courage, so can we,” he told them at one point.
As a fellow politician, he also conjured a future scenario in which Trump was running rampant and threatening the integrity of the republic itself, and they were left to explain to voters why they had done nothing to stop him. Read more…