When Republicans in the Senate vote to acquit Trump in a few months, they’ll probably sound like Steve Hilton in this clip—calling the impeachment bogus because Joe Biden deserved to be investigated, more or less.
At the end of the trial we’ll all be sick of hearing the words “quid pro quo.” Democrats will have provided ample evidence of a quid pro quo. For the purposes of this post, let’s not even question it. Let’s assume the quid pro quo is obvious beyond any doubt.
I suspect Republicans can get around this by just not caring that there was a quid pro quo. This has started already. Here’s conspiracy guy Joe Digenova:
Let me underscore emphatically that nothing that the president said on that call or what we think he said on that call constitutes a crime, and even if he had said, “You’re not going to get the money,” it would not be a crime.
My guess is that Republicans will justify this by making Trump a sort of Jean Valjean figure, who stands accused of a crime for doing something that was actually heroic. This already seems to be Stuart Varney’s strategy vis a vis Trump asking China to investigate Biden:
I just want to read the audience a quick headline from The New York Times. Bear with me, please. As you may know, President Trump earlier today urged China to investigate the Bidens. The headline in The New York Times reads, “Trump publicly urges China to investigate the Bidens.” As if there’s something wrong with that. Is there something [wrong]? I’m not sure there is. But it looks like there’s something wrong when you read The New York Times, of course.
In fact, the impeachment process has picked up speed as a reaction to an infamous press conference Mick Mulvaney gave on October 18 in which he made this argument. He more or less spelled out the fact that there was a quid pro quo, and then said, “We do that all the time with foreign policy,” and for good measure: “I have news for everybody. Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.” Mulvaney walked some of this stuff back later because it kicked up a firestorm, but you just have to look at how unabashed he was on that day to see how Team Trump feels about the whole Ukraine thing: they don’t think it was wrong.
And if I were a Trump supporter, I would be thankful for any hypothetical dirt on Biden supplied by Ukraine because I would believe Joe Biden is a threat to Trump. It’s not that this makes legal sense, but substantive legal matters are almost irrelevant in an impeachment trial, because the jurors are all elected officials trying to keep their jobs.