The day started out so well for the Democrats. Jennifer Williams and Alexander Vindman – both of whom were on the phone call between Presidents Trump and Zelinsky – painted a bleak picture of extortion / bribery / pay for play / quid pro quo / whatever else you want to call this. Both witnesses were compelling and believable, especially Vindman, who when his competence was questioned by Jim – somebody buy this guy a jacket – Jordan, read his official review in which his boss, Fiona Hill, described him as a “top 1 percent military officer.”
Here you had two witnesses with first-hand knowledge of what transpired; not hearsay witnesses like the Republicans keep complaining were the only ones that were accusing President Bone Spurs of high crimes and misdemeanors. It was by all accounts a resounding success for Adam Schiff, and anything but a good day for Trump.
And then we had round two. As a rule, I don’t like double-headers, especially back-to-back double-headers. The chances of getting two sweeps are almost always nil. More often than not what you get is a split the second time around. And that’s just what happened Tuesday afternoon. We got a split.
Now don’t get me wrong. Both Paul Volker and Tim Morrison did admit that there was something to the aid to Ukraine being tied to Zelensky starting an investigation into Hunter Biden. And Volker, in his opening statement, went out of his way to point out that Joe Biden was “an honorable man.” The appropriate thing for Schiff to do was to allow each side 45 minutes to question both witnesses, open it up for the five minute round robin, then call it a night.
But no, Schiff decided to extend the questioning for another 90 minutes, apparently convinced that would prompt both Volker and Morrison to have a come to Jesus moment. Not only didn’t that happen, the extra 45 minutes for each side allowed Devin Nunes and Jordan to peddle their conspiracy bullshit. Rule number one in any investigation: never give the other side more time than necessary to plead their case to the jury. And the jury in this case is the American public.
A majority of them know what Trump did was wrong. The sixty-four thousand dollar question is whether a majority of them – and by majority, I mean somewhere between 55 and 60 percent – believe he should be removed from office. Anything short of that and all of this was for nothing. It doesn’t matter if the Senate doesn’t convict him; frankly it was always a stretch to believe they would. The only thing that matters is whether Trump will be sufficiently wounded by this scandal to be defeated in 2020. Based on what happened today, I’m not sold, and I despise the man.
Wednesday will be critical. Gordon Sondland is scheduled to appear. He’s already changed his story once and, as I wrote in an earlier piece, he has a lot of explaining to do. His testimony could either be a dagger in the heart of the man he donated a million bucks to or the witness from hell for Democrats. To say I’m concerned would be an understatement. The two things I hate more than anything else are unforced errors and unhappy endings.
We had the number one tuesday. I’m praying number two doesn’t rear its ugly head Wednesday.