Witnesses And…

By

Leonard Zwelling

The operative word in all politics today is AND.

Joe Biden has the most experience and….

Bernie has the most loyal followers and…

Elizabeth Warren has a plan for everything and…

The GOP will never convict Trump with 67 Senate votes and…

It’s what comes next that matters. And no one seems to know AND most of the times nothing much comes next.

Mr. Biden is a good place to start because he immediately takes us back to the question of the moment. Will, after The New York Times revealed that John Bolton’s new book will implicate President Trump in a Ukrainian “drug deal,” there be at least four Republican Senators who will vote to introduce witnesses into the impeachment trial now going on in the Senate. It looks like Romney, Collins and Murkowski have finally decided that the answer is yes. And? Tonight, Tuesday, January 28, it appears that McConnell may not have the votes to block witnesses. There may yet be an AND here.

Is there a fourth necessary vote, perhaps from Cory Gardner or Lamar Alexander that would finally put some real witnesses in front of the Senate so that they can be asked about what they knew and when they knew it. More importantly, what President Trump knew, did and said and when.

But just as importantly, as Peggy Noonan has pointed out, Mr. Biden and his son will need to testify as well. Why? History. It is Mr. Trump’s fixation with Joe Biden as his likely rival that precipitated this mess in the first place. Just as Richard Nixon wanted to run against George McGovern and undermined Ed Muskie’s candidacy to do so, Mr. Trump wants to run against Mrs. Warren and would undermine Biden to do so. Only with witnesses will history judge this impeachment trial as fair when Mr. Trump is acquitted and goes on to run again and probably win. The record needs to be clear for the history books. Without witnesses, it won’t be.

This whole trial in the Senate, which is unlikely to result in the ouster of Trump as president as 67 votes would be needed meaning 20 Republicans would have to vote guilty and that is not going to happen, could be the moment of a lifetime for Biden.

Picture this. Biden is called to testify after Bolton has told the Senate that Trump was holding out on the Ukrainian military aid until the Ukrainians would investigate Biden. Maybe John Kelly even backs up Bolton. Joe marches into the Senate and tells them that there was no connection between his son’s service on the board of Burisma and any of his decisions as vice president, but in retrospect he should have prevented his son from taking that board position. He understands the appearance of conflict of interest and if he had to do it again, he would not do it the same way. Then, using the bully pulpit in the well of the Senate, he states categorically that this president is a disgrace to the office and that his behavior is offensive, but he does not take it personally. It’s just politics. But so is his testimony.

Why is this so critical now?

One has to consider how the Iowa caucuses work.

In thousands of sites around this very white state next Monday, people will gather and group themselves in packs to support one candidate or another. If in the first round of voting, a candidate does not get 15% or more of the vote, his delegates are released to choose another candidate. Think about it. Who are the two on the 15% borderline right now? Warren and Klobuchar. Warren’s voters would likely go to Bernie. Klobuchar’s would likely go to Biden. Who doesn’t get to 15% matters. A lot. And…

Iowa leads to New Hampshire, a more traditional primary. It is wrong that these two states lead off the primary season as they are wholly unrepresentative of the country. They are small and demographically homogeneous when compared to the rest of the U.S. But that’s the way it is.

Whoever comes out of Iowa and New Hampshire as the perceived leader has a huge leg up. And…

South Carolina will go to Biden and then comes Nevada and Super Tuesday when Bloomberg will try to make his move.

Everything is up in the air. In the Senate. In Iowa. In New Hampshire. In America.

This is a particularly key moment in 2020. And…

Leonard Zwelling