The TAKE with Rick Klein
For as bad it as it was, it came close to being immeasurably and incalculably worse.
It's clear from the harrowing and intense presentation of the House managers that for all the talk of impeachment as a partisan exercise, the insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol didn't think along purely party lines.
If anything, prominent Republicans -- former Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Mitt Romney among them -- were those who may have come closest to being attacked or even killed. Former President Donald Trump's own actions as documented in real time show him to be at best indifferent, and at worst directly culpable, for what happened Jan. 6.
With Democrats now midway through making their deadly serious case, the Senate trial is serving as a visceral reminder that the loyalties Republicans have shown to Trump really never were returned by Trump or many of his most fervent followers. "Destroy the GOP," one group of MAGA rally-goers chanted in video replayed at the trial Wednesday.
That probably shouldn't matter to senators as they convene as an impeachment jury. But with most national and state-level Republicans continuing their solid backing of the former president -- and those who side against him facing severe political backlash -- revisiting the horrors serve a broader purpose.
While predictions of final Senate votes are still premature, Trump may yet be saved from conviction by partisan loyalties wrapped in procedural niceties. Yet House managers are making the case that the party and the institutions that might protect him have never enjoyed Trump's respect.
The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema
Some of the visibly distracted Republican witnesses at Wednesday's impeachment proceedings, including Sens. Josh Hawley, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, have something in common -- they vocally do not support impeaching the former president and their names have recently surfaced as possible 2024 GOP contenders who will likely look to reel in Trump supporters if they choose to run.
While Democrats hope the connection between mountains of video evidence and Trump's messaging will ultimately condemn his legacy for good, Trump's supporters probably see an affirmation of the fact that when the former president speaks, his base listens.
Trump's base of supporters is also likely to be keeping tabs on who acts in accordance with the former president going forward, as indicated in some of the evidence seen on Wednesday. In one of the social media videos presented by the impeachment managers, a group of insurrectionists was seen rifling through the items on Cruz's desk in the Senate Chamber after lawmakers were evacuated.
"He's with us. He's with us," one of the rioters told the rest of the group after he looked through abandoned papers on the Texas senator's desk and signaled that Cruz was on their side because he was planning to object to the certification of the 2020 election.
Looming even closer are the midterms, and while most Republicans up for reelection appear to be unbothered by the possible consequences of their votes, they already have an example of the kind of backlash facing members of their party who go against Trump. Louisiana's Sen Bill Cassidy took a gamble when he joined Democrats earlier this week to vote in favor of proceeding with the trial, but unlike many of his colleagues, Cassidy has a six-year buffer until he has to face voters again.
The TIP with Kendall Karson
The impeachment trial centers on Trump's efforts to subvert the election, culminating in the violence on Jan. 6, but the residual impacts of his actions and the fallout of his campaign to undo his loss are still unfolding.
In the weeks after the election, Trump unleashed a range of baseless conspiracy theories about the results and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that sought to stop Congress from certifying Biden's victory.
Echoing Trump's conspiracy theories, Michigan's highest-ranking Senate Republican, Mike Shirkey, was recorded earlier this month calling the deadly riot a "hoax" and saying it wasn't "Trump people" in the mob. Shirkey expressed regret for his comments, which were caught on video, before being caught on a hot mic standing by those same remarks, casting doubt on the sincerity of his apology. And while he acknowledged that the attack was, in fact, "real," he added, "the assignment of cause, it was planned months, weeks and months in advance by somebody."
Trump being out of office and out of the public eye hasn't dimmed his rhetoric or reach among his supporters. In Ohio, Josh Mandel, the first Republican to enter the race to replace outgoing Sen. Rob Portman is positioning himself in his third bid for Senate as a Trumpian successor to Portman, an establishment figure in the GOP, who will "fight" for the ex-president's agenda.
While Trump may have staying power among his loyal base, his unwavering attempts to remain in office are not without any repercussions. Beyond the impeachment trial that could end in the unlikely outcome that he's barred from holding future office, prosecutors in Georgia opened a criminal investigation into Trump's attempts to overturn the election results in the battleground, ABC News learned on Wednesday -- weeks after he directed the secretary of state, unsuccessfully, to "find votes" on a phone call. The district attorney's office in Fulton County asked state officials to preserve documents that may be evidence of "attempts to influence" Georgia's election.
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Thursday morning's episode features former acting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Richard Besser, who tells us what to make of the new CDC findings on double-masking. ABC News White House correspondent MaryAlice Parks recaps the second day of former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. And ABC News' Conor Finnegan tells us if new sanctions announced against Myanmar military leaders will have any impact on the struggle to regain democracy there..http://apple.co/2HPocUL
ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., told ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein that if Senate Democrats cannot get 17 Republican votes to impeach former President Donald Trump, a 60-vote censure proposal is a possibility.https://bit.ly/3oMKdUP
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