As the House impeachment hearings neared a close today, perhaps the best summary of it all was offered by Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA).
"The President did it," he said. "He did it."
After days of hearings, with testimony from courageous State Department and national security career employees and ambassadors alike, it was absolutely clear that President Donald Trump, enabled by his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, demanded that the new president of Ukraine agree to conduct an investigation that would discredit his potential 2020 opponent former Vice President Joe Biden.
EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland yesterday shocked Republicans when he casually said Trump required such an investigation before a White House meeting with President Zelinsky would be granted and before already appropriated financial aide and needed defensive weapons would be provided.
Democrats called that a "quid pro quo," and even bribery or extortion. Republicans spent their time complaining about how mean Democrats have been to Trump ever since his election.
They cried foul and claimed Trump was being railroaded by the Democrats, but they could do little to shake witness testimony that led to that conclusion.
One of the true star witnesses was the last, Dr. Fiona Hill, a former national security aide and expert on Russia political affairs, whose steely determination to tell the truth was unshaken by Republican attempts to discredit the import of her testimony.
She debunked claims by Trump and the Republicans that it was the Ukrainians, not the Russians, that meddled in the 2016 election. And, if fact, she pretty much told them they were fools for believing that.
But this woman was not to be intimidated. After all, she is the same person who at age 11 was taking a test in school when some boy behind her lit her pigtail on fire. She reached back and snuffed out the fire with her hand, then went back to taking the test.
The Republicans more than met their match.
In her opening statement, she said, "Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves."
Blaming Ukraine for election interference was simply an effort by Trump to divert attention, to take action and blame others for it. That's a strategy, in fact, that Hill told the committee that Putin regularly does.
Now, it's up to the House Judiciary Committee to determine if articles of impeachment will be sent to the Senate for an impeachment trial, likely to occur sometime in January at the earliest.
There, Republicans will be in charge of the process and there the outcome will be decided.
According to early reports, Senate Republicans and White House officials are mapping out a strategy to limit the Senate trial to two weeks. Several Senate Republicans view two weeks as long enough to have credence without dragging on too long. After all, it's upsetting Trump.
The scenario assumes the proceedings would end in acquittal in the GOP-controlled Senate.
“I don’t want them to believe there’s an ability to dismiss the case before it’s heard,” Sen, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said. “I think most everybody agreed, there’s not 51 votes to dismiss it before the managers get to call the case.”
But if Graham and other GOP Senate leaders have their way, it will be a "show trial," just enough to give appearance of legitimacy.
What else would we expect? But will the American people let them get away with that tactic? We will see.