It was a ceremonial, symbolic today. Democrats want you to think it’s very important too. It was unquestionably a rare moment. For the third time in the history of the United States, a president will face a trial in the Senate.
The Democrats looked incredulous at the claims that they had delayed the delivery of the articles of political judgment for their own political benefit.
Instead, Nancy Pelosi, the President of the Chamber, insisted that the extra time had given them valuable space to discover new incriminating evidence.
Among the documents they published during the night, there were texts that alleged that former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was placed under surveillance as part of Donald Trump’s pressure campaign.
A letter, allegedly from Rudy Giuliani, also requested a meeting with the President of Ukraine “as personal advisor to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent.”
However, their revelations of the 11th hour only served to add more fuel to the Republican argument that they are clinging to the straws, trying to find someone or something to justify the case in which they have failed to convince anyone other than themselves.
The fact is that the ball is now on the court of the Republicans and they don’t want a prolonged game, with an extended penalty time.
They have made it clear that they do not believe they need to listen to new witnesses, something the Democrats are desperate for. That could mean no Rudy Giuliani, nor John Bolton.
Perhaps your calculation is this: Why encourage danger? Why try to talk to someone who could sink the president in some crazy way, if you’ve already decided that you want to save him?
And that is what Republicans will surely do. In this hyper-partisan climate, except for a last-minute riot, it is hard to believe that they will do more than acquit President Trump.
And why have a test program, when can you have a short one?
The White House is already making it clear that they expect it to be less than two weeks, so they can trust that they can prove that this is a direct case of an innocent man unduly attacked by a party that is trying to win an election.
Veterans of the DC rhythm will tell you never to doubt the senators, who are an unpredictable group that take their second chamber status incredibly seriously.
No one should pretend that they know how court president John Roberts will behave, who will preside over the trial.
Of course, there could be surprises and some awkward moments for the president. But his ally, the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has made it clear that he is not willing to open the floor for a long litigation or a fishing expedition to obtain new information.
Yes, there will be theater, intrigue and new accusations. Yes, we could hear new information that could be politically detrimental to the president and the Republican senators who tried to protect him.
And yes, everything could run into the Iowa caucuses and the speech of the State of the Union of Donald Trump if it does not end quickly.
That will frustrate you. But the longer this lasts, the more he will use it to claim that Democrats don’t focus on the issues that matter most.
And among the many voters I’ve talked to, nobody thinks that this Senate trial will change their minds.
Democrats say it is a constitutional duty. It also remains a great political risk. The accusation is very low on the priority lists of voters.