“I wish to express to this court that I accept complete responsibility for my actions that have led me here”…
… is something that Donald Trump would never say, under any circumstances.
But it is something that his former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates would say, and indeed he did say it on Tuesday at his sentencing hearing, where he received a slap on the wrist.
Gates will serve a total of 45 days in jail. He also received three years’ probation. The jail time can be served intermittently, likely on weekends. He’ll need to do 300 hours of community service and pay a $20,000 fine. His lawyers say he’s broke. He and Paul Manafort hid millions. Maybe there’s a rainy-day bag buried in the basement of an antique rug shop somewhere.
“I greatly regret the mistakes I’ve made and I’ve worked hard to honor my commitment to make amends”, Gates went on to say.
That brings to a close one of the longest-running legal sagas in the Mueller investigation. Rather than fight the charges, as his mentor apparently advised, Gates cooperated. For his efforts, he is essentially a free man. Or at least compared to Manafort, who is serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence in the feds.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump is staring down impeachment and on Tuesday, Chuck Schumer accused Mitch McConnell of planning a “sham” trial in the Senate, where the president’s acquittal is just as likely as his impeachment in the House.
Schumer reiterated a call for testimony from Mick Mulvaney, who has stonewalled Congress at the behest of the White House for the better part of two months. Schumer, like everyone else in America, also wants to hear from John Bolton. He wouldn’t mind if Associate Director for National Security at the Office of Management and Budget Michael Duffey and Mulvaney advisor Robert Blair showed up either.
McConnell is having none of it.
“If they fail, they fail”, McConnell said on the Senate floor, implicitly pre-judging Trump by suggesting that the House hasn’t made the case for removing him from office. “It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to ‘get to guilty'”, Mitch added.
Apparently, hearing from relevant witness who have refused to cooperate with the House investigation counts as a “desperate” search to “get to guilty”. Sane people might simply suggest that’s how trials work.
Schumer underscored that in his response to McConnell on the floor Tuesday. “I did not hear a single sentence, a single argument as to why the witnesses I suggested should not give testimony”, he said.
“Impeachment trials, like most trials, have witnesses. To have none would be an aberration”, Schumer added.
Right. And that’s just fine with McConnell, who has made it abundantly clear that there is zero chance of Trump being convicted.
And really, it’s not even clear that it matters. Is anyone really under the impression that Trump would leave office if he were convicted in the Senate?
Who knows, maybe that’s one thing Senate Republicans are concerned about. For most of the president’s first term, alarmists have suggested he might never leave office, regardless of impeachment and irrespective of what results voters render at the ballot box.
Trump has taken a shine to publicly “joking” about serving as many as four or five terms which, considering his age, would entail ruling for the rest of his days.
During his testimony on Capitol Hill before beginning his own term in prison, Michael Cohen warned lawmakers that “there will not be a peaceful transition of power”. Republicans scoffed, but if we’re all being honest, Trump has almost surely considered the possibility of remaining in power indefinitely.
To this day, nobody – not Republicans, not Democrats, not the media and not the courts – has provided clear answer as to what, exactly, stops Trump from simply refusing to leave. There is obviously no precedent for a US president being forcibly extracted from the White House. Trump has tested every other boundary, why not that one?
So, when Chuck Schumer asks, as he did on Tuesday, “Why is the leader, why is the president so afraid of having these witnesses come testify?”, we would suggest that while the answer for the president is easy (he doesn’t want anyone else to give potentially damaging testimony), the answer for McConnell may be more complicated.