The Reality TV Personality Wants a Show Trial in the Senate

On Tuesday, House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump.

The first article charges him with abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to assist him in his re-election campaign by damaging Democratic rivals. The second article charges him with obstruction of Congress for blocking testimony and refusing to provide documents in response to House subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry.

The House Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the articles of impeachment Thursday, with the full House taking them up during the third week of December.

At this point, both parties seem to have agreed to delay the Senate trial until January, after the holidays. But following weeks of partisan feuds, CNN is reporting that the next conflict seems to be between the president and Senate majority leader.

In conversations with the White House, the Kentucky Republican has made clear he hopes to end the trial as soon as he can, an effort to both get impeachment off his lap and protect his conference from potentially damaging votes should the process break out into partisan warfare. That will include a continuous whip count until McConnell feels he has the votes to acquit the President and end the show. He has even floated a 10-day minimum during these talks, one person said.

But the show is exactly what Trump wants. He’s made clear to advisers privately that rather than end the trial as quickly as possible, he is hoping for a dramatic event, according to two people familiar with his thinking. He wants Hunter Biden, Rep. Adam Schiff and the whistleblower to testify. He wants the witnesses to be live, not clips of taped depositions. And he’s hoping to turn it into a spectacle, which he thinks is his best chance to hurt Democrats in the election.

Trump has been anticipating this for weeks now.

You can feel the tension rising by watching his Twitter feed lately.

President Donald Trump put out more than 100 tweets on Sunday, sharing attacks on the impeachment inquiry with his 67 million followers.

The commander-in-chief tweeted a total of 105 times yesterday, or a little more than four times per hour on average, with most of his activity taking place between 10 a.m. and 6.30 p.m…Trump’s tweets and re-posts on the platform were largely aimed at the impeachment process and Democrats leading the inquiry.

Of course Trump wants a show in the Senate. He’d love to give media commentators the “pizzazz” they’ve been missing in the impeachment hearings so far. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the president attempted to bring in Mark Burnett to produce the whole thing. They could rig it so that Trump flew in to testify on Marine One at night under the spotlights.

I’m kidding. But only a little bit. We have a reality TV president who has been cooped up in the White House (when he’s not playing golf), while this whole impeachment saga unfolds. For someone whose ego demands to be center stage at all times, I’m sure that’s been excruciating. Now Trump sees himself on the verge of finally getting to jump into the spotlight. He’s obviously ready to roll.

But it also isn’t surprising that the kind of spectacle Trump craves is anathema to McConnell, who just wants to keep his head down, clear the president, and get on with his Senate race in Kentucky. After the holidays, we’ll get to see who prevails on this one.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.