“The ‘Not Guilty’ vote is growing after today. I think most Republicans found the presentation by the House Managers offensive and absurd.”
What part, exactly, was offensive and absurd? The 13-minute video that, in remarkable detail, laid out how Trump’s speech was received by the thousands who attended the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally and then violently overran the US Capitol? The months of knowing lies from Trump that convinced his supporters that the election had been stolen? The harrowing footage that showed just how close the rioters came to finding then-Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, among others? The gallows that these rioters had set up in front of the Capitol?
If Graham’s conclusion was that the House impeachment managers’ case was “offensive” and “absurd,” well, he was one of the only ones.
“I’m angry, I’m disturbed,” Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski told CNN. “The evidence that has been presented is pretty damning.” Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, asked whether he was shaken by the footage of the riot shown Wednesday, responded: “Who wouldn’t be?”
Now there is obviously a difference between being disturbed by what happened at the Capitol on January 6 and being willing to vote to convict Trump for his role in inciting that melee. Johnson, for example, is virtually certain to vote to acquit Trump – no matter how much he was affected by the impeachment managers’ presentations.
But that’s not what Graham is talking about in his tweet. He specifically says that the managers’ presentation is moving votes away from convicting Trump and toward acquitting him. That what had been presented so far makes more Republican senators likely to vote with the former President in the final reckoning.
All available evidence of the trial to this point disputes that contention.
After a test vote last month on the constitutionality of the trial garnered just five Republican votes, a similar vote on the trial’s first day drew six Republicans. with Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy changing his vote.
“The House managers were focused, they were organized … they made a compelling argument,” explained Cassidy. “President Trump’s team, they were disorganized. … One side is doing a great job and the other side is doing a terrible job. … As an impartial juror, I’m going to vote for the side that did the good job.”
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R) predicted Wednesday that “probably five and maybe six” Republican senators would cross party lines and eventually vote to convict and remove Trump from office. (A supermajority – 67 senators – would need to vote for Trump’s conviction, which seems very unlikely.)
Which supports the overarching reality of this trial: There just aren’t many senators who are genuinely undecided. The vast majority of Republican senators have already settled on the this -is-unconstitutional! argument to allow them to avoid engaging with the actual facts of Trump’s months-long effort to raise questions about the election and rally his most ardent supporters to fight the results.
But for Graham to contend that what the Senate (and the rest of us) have seen over the last two days is somehow going to mean that fewer senators vote to convict Trump is a) not factually accurate and b) appalling.
Any thinking person who has watched the impeachment managers’ case over the last two days has come away with one very clear insight: The January 6 riots were really bad and, if not for a few heroes like Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, could have been much, much worse. If Graham thinks that is “offensive” and “absurd,” he should rethink what those words actually mean.