Impeachment was meant to punish Donald Trump’s unrestrained use of his authority, but the grounds on which Republican senators plan to acquit him may instead give him a green light to use his power however he wants to win reelection.
Trump’s GOP defenders looking to end his Senate trial in the next few days are increasingly arguing that it’s time to shut things down because even if Trump is guilty of coercing Ukraine for political favors, such conduct would not be impeachable.
They are seizing on stunning arguments envisioning almost unchallenged presidential power and highly limited criteria for defining the abuse of power and impeachment laid out by a maverick member of Trump’s legal team, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz.
Republican leaders are meanwhile increasingly confident they will have the votes to block Democratic demands for the testimony of new trial witnesses, including John Bolton, who reportedly has information implicating Trump in pressuring Ukraine for political favors.
The quickening bid to squelch any further fact-finding in the trial is also taking place as the White House seeks to delay publication of the former national security adviser’s forthcoming book, which The New York Times has reported to be deeply critical of Trump’s behavior towards the Kiev government and elsewhere.
The Senate impeachment trial resumed on Wednesday for the first of two days of questioning from senators to the Democratic House impeachment managers and the President’s lawyers.