Accuracy in Media

A Salon piece on the president’s battle with Congress over his phone call to the president of Ukraine published a piece Tuesday suggesting that President Donald Trump will be forced from office in the near future.

“Mystery wrapped in nasty: If there’s a Senate trial ahead, what evil will Mitch do?” read the headline on a piece by Bob Sesca. “McConnell now says he’ll have to hold an impeachment trial. Is he preparing to throw Trump under the bus,” read the subhead.

It would not have been a surprise if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to “pull a Merrick Garland and insist that the trail couldn’t take place within a year of the presidential election,” Cesca wrote, “and then perhaps hold a procedural vote to back up his would-be scam.”

But Cesca says MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, “whose first-hand experience in the Senate and knowledge of its functioning is well known,” suggests McConnell “is panicking about 2020.”

By agreeing to a unanimous consent request for documents President Trump already has made public and admitting that Senate rules require him to hold a trial if the House votes to impeach, “McConnell is doing exactly what he should be doing if he thinks he might need a different nominee for president,” Cesca quotes O’Donnell saying.

That different nominee would be Vice President Mike Pence, who would be a “much more compliant chief executive,” who would keep the evangelicals in line “perhaps with greater energy than for a Trump re-election,” Cesca wrote. “In the end, Trump has to resign and allow Pence to be sworn in. He has no choice.”

McConnell “would still possess enough procedural heft to minimize the damage to the defendant – if he chooses to do so,” Cesca wrote, suggesting without evidence the majority leader is considering abandoning the president.

McConnell could try to muck things up by calling witnesses “irrelevant to the articles (i.e. charges) against Trump,” such as Joe and Hunter Biden, and he could push to out the person who supposedly reported Trump for this, he wrote.

But the trial “could still be devastating for Trump, even if he’s acquitted. The process itself, in fact, could push Trump to up and quit before the trial ever begins.” Cesca wrote that we shouldn’t be surprised if Trump resigns solely to keep from having to reveal his tax returns.

“It goes without saying that there are myriad cartoon-sized anvils dangling over Trump’s head,” Cesca wrote. “Democrats need only begin to gnaw at the ropes in order for Trump to ejector-seat himself out of the White House before one or more of those anvils fall.”

McConnell has “connections” to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, Cesca wrote. With his “reelection chances next year … far from settled,” he “might throw Trump under a fleet of buses to prevent himself from being dragged into Trump’s worsening mess.”

Cesca says it can’t be ruled out that Trump will resign before the first procedural vote in the Senate and try to orchestrate his succession such that he is pardoned. “There are numerous possibilities here, but the entire thing hinges on who is more likely to pardon Trump after he boards Marine One for the last time,” Cesca wrote.

“Should Trump lose the 2020 election, there’s zero possibility of a pardon to shield him from prosecution; only the tradition of presidents balking at investigating previous administrations.”

Thus, the only legal way Trump can guarantee he won’t be prosecuted after he leaves office, Cesca wrote, “is to resign with a Gerald Ford-style pardon from Pence. That’s it.

“Someone should tell him, because he hasn’t yet considered the Sophie’s Choice he faces. Resignation and a presidential pardon, taken together, are Trump’s only path to avoiding prison shy of pulling off another improbable election victory, which is no sure thing, whatever he may say.”

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