Moscow Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is leaving no doubt as to the fairness with which he would manage articles of impeachment against President Trump, should they be approved by the House of Representatives.
With a new video blasted out over social media, the Kentucky Republican is trying to raise money against the impeachment effort, making it obvious that any Senate "trial" under his watch would be short lived, indeed.
Where the effort by House Democrats to impeach Trump for enlisting the help of the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, actually goes remains to be seen. But clearly, it's an extremely serious situation for Trump, and articles of impeachment could well be referred to the Senate by Thanksgiving.
A critical key to the success of that effort will be public opinion, a factor that will weigh heavily on members of the Republican-controlled Senate as they decide whether to vote for impeachment or not.
That's exactly what happened in 1974 following the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. He had won reelection in a landslide and began 1973 with a 68 percent approval rating in the Gallup Poll. But public opinion turned against the president who famously declared "I am not a crook!" And then, he was unceremoniously booted out of town and needed to be pardoned by President Ford to avoid going to the slammer.
During that period, I was press secretary and chief of staff for a Republican Congressman from New Jersey, whose district would today be described as "purple." His name was Ed Forsythe and he was known as a moderate/liberal Republican, an extinct species today.
I recall a conversation with him when an impeachment vote in the House seemed almost certain and he was trying to determine how he would vote. He was torn. His conscience told him to vote too impeach, but politically he did not want to buck his party and his president. Finally, he reached a decision. If there was a vote, it would be to impeach.
That same scenario can be expected to play itself out across Congress should the Trump impeachment move forward. Republicans, despite whatever loyalty they hold for Trump, and despite their fear of his retribution, will have to decide what to do and will have to answer to their conscience.
Already, Trump and his right wing media henchmen are targeting Republicans who raise even the slightest concern about the Ukraine fiasco, trying to use fear and intimidation as their weapon, the facts be damned.
Sen. Mitt Romney has been subjected to false social media stories all because he had the nerve to express concern about Trump's infamous phone call about Joe Biden. Even staunch GOP loyalist Sen. Chuck Grassley has been similarly victimized.
So, decisions on how to vote, and the ultimate impeachment outcome, will hinge on two key factors:
The first is the clarity of the evidence. Guilt must be clearly and undeniably established -- and easily understood by the electorate.
The second is the sentiment of voters in Congressional districts and states across America because for many, It will come down to protecting their own political futures, their own conscience be damned.
That's why we see Trump excoriating Democrats multiple times a day on twitter, and that's why Moscow Mitch has launched his social media campaign. It's all an effort to turn public opinion, even though the impeachment inquiry really has just begun.
We can expect the heat to be turned up. If it seems nasty now, just wait.