To be (tried) or not to be

Something is rotten in Donald.

Two-thirds of Americans want former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial. Then again, a poll last April showed that many wanted to preserve the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing medical conditions . Popular opinion has not dissuaded Republicans from trying to drive a stake through the ACA’s heart.

About that trial. The president argued for months he was eager for his inevitable acquittal in the Senate. He declared as recently as New Year’s Eve, “I look forward to it.” Now Trump has second thoughts. The White House is urging Senate Republicans to retain the option of dismissing the charges after opening arguments . For now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky lacks the votes for immediate dismissal. Dismissal might also put members of his caucus up for reelection this fall in a difficult spot:

McConnell has made clear to his colleagues that he wants Trump to emerge victorious in the trial and is not willing to hold a vote that could fail, sources said. He’s also keenly aware of what a vote to dismiss would look like politically, according to Republican senators, and has shepherded his conference away from the idea for several weeks.

On Monday, however, indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas turned over “photos, dozens of text messages and thousands of pages of documents to House impeachment investigators.” Parnas attorney Joseph A. Bondy called on Attorney General William Barr to recuse himself “so that Lev can be properly evaluated as a witness in the impeachment inquiry.”

And with the announcement those documents might be produced, the mercurial president has changed his mind about having that trial.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank snarks:

“Many believe,” of course, is Trump-speak for “I believe.” And I understand why “many believe” a fair Senate trial would hurt Trump, if it means producing the documents and witnesses Trump refused to provide to the House. His defenses would wither faster than his explanations for the assassination of Iran’s Qasem Soleimani.


Trump, after expressing his newfound belief that a Senate trial wouldn’t help his case, moved on to sharing other beliefs Monday with his Twitter followers, including a belief that “I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare” and a belief that “the corrupted Dems [are] trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue.” His evidence for the latter belief: a doctored picture of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wearing Muslim garb in front of an Iranian flag.

Trumpublicans, Milbank suggests, are like characters from the musical “The Book of Mormon.” (“I believe that God lives on a planet called Kolob! … And I believe that the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri.”)

For the Trump and Trumpers, Milbank explains, the truth is whatever Donald says it is, “much as when he said his net worth was based on how he feels.” Did Donald Trump really save pre-existing conditions? Did he have evidence of attacks by Soleimani on four U.S. embassies and that they were “eminent”? Do his defenders really believe Trump has done “NOTHING wrong“? Is he really in “very good health,” 243 pounds and 6′-3″? Milbank’s assessment: “A Republican just believes.”

That, is what makes Trumpism a cult.

Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.

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