* I hope I’m wrong, but I think that ultimately Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who’s been critically outspoken about the impeachment proceedings and is hardly a Trump sycophant, will vote to acquit. For the record, Murkowski has said she is “disturbed” by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge to collude with the White House. She doesn’t want to “pre-judge.” She doesn’t want to work “hand in glove with the defense.”
But will she paint herself into a non-fealty, Democratic-siding corner?
She could pull a Marco Rubio, known to occasionally differ with Trump to affirm that he’s still his own person, and then vote to support the big priorities. Murkowski could say, in effect: “I am nobody’s rubber stamp. I won’t rush to judgment because that’s what my party and this president want. I won’t support a sham trial with a pre-ordained verdict. That’s not who I am or what the American people want–or need.
“But having objectively looked at all the evidence, I honestly don’t find it so compelling that it reaches the level of impeachment. Deeply disturbing, to be sure. I get the uproar, but it’s shy of why we should remove a president elected by the people. I can live with my vote because I’ve done my due diligence, not because I slavishly follow party and presidential dictates.”
I hope I’m wrong. And that goes for the equivocating Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Mitt Romney (Utah), who might still want to be secretary of state–and maybe long shots Cory Gardner (Colorado) and Rob Portman (Ohio) too.
* Trump was impeached over abuse of power involving the strong-arming of Ukraine, a vulnerable ally, for personal political gain. Why should anyone be surprised? It’s the geopolitical extension of the Trump MO. Not unlike using overwhelming leverage against Queens sub-contractors.
* So look who spent Christmas Eve with the Trumps at Mar-a-Lago: The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and his wife. BTW, Ovechkin is a close friend of Vlad Putin. At least Andrei Vasilevskiy and Nikita Kucherov weren’t there.
* We now know that Trump retweeted, then deleted a post that included the alleged name of the anonymous whistleblower whose revelation ultimately led to the president’s impeachment. If nothing else, this is at serious odds with federal protection laws that exist to protect the identity, careers and, possibly, lives of those who bring forward accusations of wrongdoing by government officials. Unfortunately, we can’t delete the reality that Trump tweets to 68 million followers.
* “… Foster a culture of deeper understanding and respect, traits that exemplify the teachings of Christ.”–That’s what Donald Trump urged Americans to do in his Christmas message. Maybe Mike Pence fell for it.
* It’s weird that England, a critical geopolitical and trade partner of the U.S.–especially in the post-Brexit era–still hasn’t appointed an ambassador to the U.S. The previous ambassador, Kim Darroch, was basically run out of town this summer after his cables disparaging the Trump White House as “dysfunctional” leaked to the media. Can only imagine how Darroch couched his comments when not observing diplomatic protocols.
* The stock market, as we’ve been seeing, continues to climb to historic heights. Overall, that’s very good, of course, even if doesn’t directly impact the bootstraps demographic. But at some point, one of the immutable laws of economics could kick in: Uncertainty is always unwelcome. That ominously remains an ever-present reality, if not certainty, in an era when the most powerful and influential person in the world remains unhinged, unpredictable and dangerously unfit.