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Trump Wants House Clowns on His Impeachment Defense Team

3 min read

WaPo Politics has a new story out: GOP leaders spar over adding House members to Trump’s impeachment defense team

A turf war over who should defend President Trump in a Senate impeachment trial is raging behind the scenes in Congress, as House Republicans push to join Trump’s legal team — an idea that piques the president’s interest — over the objections of Senate Republicans.

Republicans the House GOP is talking about include Jim “Gym” Jordan (who might have to keep his jacket on in the Senate), John Ratcliffe (who is constantly in the running for dumbest Congressman of the week), and the ever-calm, cool, and collected Doug Collins (pictured above in one of his calmer moments).

Trump wants to go for it.

Trump, partial to bare-knuckles tactics and top-rated TV performances, loves the idea, according to four administration and congressional officials familiar with his thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly.

Moscow Mitch is not thrilled.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his fellow GOP senators have expressed concerns to Trump that a House-led defense could offend moderates, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Trump, they argue, has already won the backing of the GOP base, so he and his team need to focus on ensuring Republican unity on an acquittal.

Now, Moscow Mitch has been working with Putin’s Puppet on Senate strategy all along, but here’s the thing. Up till now, MM has held the upper hand, since the plotting has been over what he and his caucus can get away with, like not calling witnesses. (Trump wanted Biden & Son called as witnesses; McConnell shot that down so as not to have to listen to Bolton and Mulvaney.) Or on Trump’s plan to have the Senate dismiss the charges without a trial; MM told him flat out that’s not possible.

But this one is different. Trump has absolute control over who he picks to defend him before the Senate. (Well, I suppose they have to be lawyers, but all the named Congressmen qualify.) And he still thinks like a reality TV host.

Perhaps most important to Trump is the three House members’ flair for the dramatic, which the president often says makes for good TV. The Senate trial will be broadcast on national television, and some House Republicans have privately suggested that Cipollone’s approach may be too bookish.

The House GOP leadership is also pushing this.

[S]ome House Republicans, such as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and top Trump ally Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.), have argued that Cipollone needs assistance from House members who are deeply familiar with the Democrats’ case against Trump. Jordan and Ratcliffe, for example, both sat through hours of closed-door depositions with witnesses testifying about Ukraine; Collins led the GOP effort in the House Judiciary Committee opposing the articles of impeachment.

But Senate Republicans are telling (or trying to tell) IMPOTUS that the Senate will not appreciate having the House tell it what to do.

McConnell and several Senate Republicans have pushed back on the idea of House Republicans on the defense team. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) told Trump that senators — who typically abhor being dictated to by House members — will not take kindly to congressmen arguing the president’s case.

This doesn’t apply to the House managers, of course. The House has to select from among its own members managers to present its case — though I suppose they can add some outside counsel. The point is, everyone knows that Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler will make a calm, dignified, respectful presentation that befits the gravity of the situation. Ratcliffe, Jordan, and Collins will dress up in clown suits and try to turn this into a pie fight.

Here, then, is one instance where I want Trump to live up (down?) to his habit of shooting himself in the foot. McConnell cannot stop him if Trump decides he wants to send “warriors” into the Senate to battle on his behalf. It won’t change the ultimate Senate vote, but the country will be watching. Even Trump TV will have to play this one.

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