Trump is treating his escape from justice as a political win, promising to “emerge soon” into the spotlight. The ex-President plans to use upcoming midterm primaries to seek revenge on Republicans who turned on him and to prove his staying power as the GOP’s de-facto leader.
Republicans’ unwillingness to constrain Trump has led to two impeachments, the loss of the White House, the House and the Senate, multiple abuses of power and Trump’s botched handling of a pandemic that has killed nearly half a million Americans. But the party’s demographic foundation means that the only route to power still relies on a juiced turnout by Trump’s most loyal supporters.
This clash between power and principle is best underscored by McConnell’s contradictory behavior in the trial. The Kentucky Republican voted to acquit Trump on the dubious basis that the Constitution bars trying an impeached President once he has left office.
But everything McConnell does is explained by his driving desire to keep his conference together in the service of maintaining or recapturing power — in this case in next year’s midterms.
“The only thing I care about is electability,” McConnell said.
It is this kind of cynical strategizing that has made McConnell one of the most powerful congressional leaders since Lyndon Johnson. It has also led the Republican Party to a point where it cannot summon itself to punish a former President who staged an effective coup after losing an election.
“We have been doing three things at once,” the Connecticut Democrat said. But that balancing act would have come unstuck had the trial dragged on much longer — a factor in Democratic senators pushing back at a surprise bid on Saturday by House Impeachment managers to call witnesses.
“The American Rescue Plan has resources, $130 billion of resources, to facilitate and help schools get there,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Her comments reflected the new reality that with Trump out of the picture, Biden is about to experience the full glare of scrutiny over the pandemic, the economy and every other unsolved national problem that ends up on a president’s desk.