Over the last two weeks, the saving grace of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial has been that the senators hearing the case have, at least in the Senate chamber, had to shut up. Sure, you could get your fill of their self-aggrandizing meanderings from the mics ready to catch their every word in the Capitol's hallways, but you could watch the actual trial feed without being accosted by the thoughts or ideas of Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer and especially, especially, Ted Cruz.
That ended Wednesday. With opening arguments in the trial done and dusted, the trial's jurors, your senators, got to begin asking questions of the House's impeachment managers and the president's legal team. Some of the questions, like those submitted by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, showed that the senator in question cared about the process and, at least, the appearance that they hadn't made up their minds.
The questions I have submitted for the Q&A period of the Impeachment Trial: pic.twitter.com/JTHlKJfcNN— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) January 29, 2020
Then there was Ted Cruz. Cruz used his first question to throw up his hands about whether Trump abused his office when he allegedly withheld aid from Ukraine in hopes that their government would announce an investigation of Hunter Biden, the son of one of his chief political rivals.
Two weeks ago, as Vox pointed out Wednesday, Cruz said that any allegations that the president entangled himself in a quid pro quo were hearsay. Now, Cruz doesn't seem to think it matters at all whether the president threatened to withhold foreign aid in an attempt to influence the 2020 presidential election.
As I’ve said many times, it doesn't matter if there was a quid pro quo or not. My 1st #impeachment question explains why.— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) January 29, 2020
“As a matter of law, does it matter if there was a quid pro quo? Is it true that quid pro quos are often used in foreign policy?”
Watch @AlanDersh answer: pic.twitter.com/01hOKBtsae
As lame as that question might have been, Cruz's second question was even lamer. What about President Obama?, Cruz wondered.
My 2nd #impeachment Q, w @LindseyGrahamSC: “If Pres. Obama had evidence that Mitt Romney’s son was being paid $1 million/yr by a corrupt Russian company & Romney had acted to benefit that company, would Obama have authority to ask that that potential corruption be investigated?”— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) January 29, 2020
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, one of the House's impeachment managers, lit into the question.
“Would it have been impeachable if Barack Obama had tried to get Medvedev to do an investigation of Mitt Romney, whether it was justified or unjustified? The reality is, for a president to withhold military aid from an ally or in the hypothetical to withhold it to benefit an adversary, to target their political opponent, is wrong and corrupt, period. End of story,” Schiff said.
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Cruz used his third question to allege a conspiracy involving the whistleblower who first made public Trump's alleged impropriety with regard to Ukraine.
(2/3) “… Do you have reason to believe they knew each other? Do you have any reason to believe the alleged whistleblower and Misko coordinated to fulfill their reported commitment to ‘do everything we can to take out the president?’”— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) January 29, 2020
All of this from a man who purports to be one of the most intellectually rigorous members of the Senate.
If you can stand it, the Senate's question time continues Thursday and Friday.