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What I learned from watching the first week of impeachment hearings

The witnesses were fabulous. Patriotic Americans serving with integrity. I learned a lot of details that I hadn’t known, although the basic outlines were long available.

Rep. Adam Schiff
Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence committee, making his concluding remarks as he closes the impeachment inquiry on Thursday.
Bill O'Leary/Pool via REUTERS

One of the blessings of my great MinnPost gig (plus the invention of the DVR), is that I was able to watch the entirety of the House impeachment hearings. So many of the witnesses were inspiring examples of honesty, patriotism and commitment to the truth.

In this paragraph, I pretend to have a lot of sympathy for the Republican complaint that chairman Adam Schiff was unfair to them. I would actually have some sympathy for them if any of them, other than Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, had made even a vague pretense of wanting to learn the truth, rather than spend every opportunity they had trying, not very effectively, to blur it.

Countless times, they accused the Democrats of anti-democratic motives, trying to remove the people’s choice from the Oval Office. Over and again, they referred to Trump’s victory as the result of an Electoral College “landslide.” I would bet several hryvnia (that, believe it or not, is the Ukrainian currency) that there was a Republican messaging memo to use that “L” word (landslide).

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This is some combination of hilarious and pitiful on two counts. First, although they were at least honest enough to claim only an “electoral college” landslide, they never, ever mentioned that Trump actually lost the popular vote, nor that the entire victory is tainted by the benefits of foreign interference (but the latter is only the unanimous conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community, so feel free to ignore it).

But the second point is even funnier. While Trump did win the (tainted, according to me) electoral vote, his E-vote margin was the 46th largest out of the 58 presidential elections to date. So it’s (barely) in the top 80 percent of victory margins.

Don’t believe me? See this link. It’s pretty pitiful that they do this stuff. Shame on them, and (a little less shame) on anyone who falls for it.

The witnesses were fabulous. Patriotic Americans serving with integrity. I learned a lot of details that I hadn’t known, although the basic outlines were long available.

I have a little more (but still not much) sympathy for the Republican complaint that Democrats controlled the list of witnesses who testified (although Chairman Adam Schiff did call some witnesses whom Republicans asked him to call, it wasn’t up to them which ones, and there weren’t very many).

I’ve long felt, and my thinking hasn’t changed, that the odds are very high that the Democratic-controlled House will vote to impeach. I don’t know that a single Republican will join them. But since only a majority vote is required, impeachment will likely pass, which only sets up a Senate trial, in the majority Republican Senate. And, since a two-thirds vote is necessary to convict/remove a president, I do not expect Trump to be removed from office.

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Judging by the lack of movement in Trump’s approval ratings (yes, bad as always, but still always low-40s approval, low 50s-disapproval) Trump will probably survive to seek and, who knows, possibly, win a second term.

I used to be shocked at the loyalty of his approvers, but how long can the same fact retain its power to surprise?

Lastly, acknowledging that this could be my bias showing (but I don’t really think so), the hearing showed a colossal mismatch, across the party lines, in the brains and talent on the committee. I almost feel sorry for the committee Republicans, to be so overmatched. But if you doubt my conclusion, I offer links below to the closing arguments by the lead Republican on the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, and the Democratic Chair, Adam Schiff (also of California).

My opinion: while Schiff’s is longer, Nunes’ is harder to sit through.

Here’s Nunes:

Here’s Schiff: