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Bill Straub: The whole world is watching the ‘dive,’ but that’s the way it goes in McConnell’s world

America hasn’t witnessed a dive like this since Sonny Liston kissed the canvas after that infamous “phantom punch’’ from a young Muhammed Ali up in Lewison, ME, in ’65.

And, just as then, the whole world is watching.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch “Root-‘n-Branch’’ McConnell, of Louisville, has made it crystal clear that, regardless of whatever information comes to the fore, the upper chamber will not seriously consider removing President Donald J. Trump, aka President Extremely Stable Genius, aka President Great and Unmatched Wisdom, from office, dismissing his impeachment by the House as taking “our nation down a dangerous road.”

“If the Senate blesses this unprecedented and dangerous House process by agreeing that an incomplete case and a subjective basis are enough to impeach a president, we will almost guarantee the impeachment of every future president of either party,’’ Moscow Mitch declared on the Senate floor Wednesday. “This grave process of last constitutional resort will be watered-down into the kind of anti-democratic recall measure that the founding fathers explicitly did not want.”

In McConnell world, Trump’s questionable manipulations involving a beleaguered ally, Ukraine, and a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat seeking to topple The Donald from his presidential perch, are of no particular consequence.

“It was not some earnest fact-finding mission that brought us here,’’ ol’ Root-‘n-Branch sniffed in that distinctive, preening way of his. “This is not about the nuances of foreign assistance to Eastern Europe. This has been naked partisanship all along.”

It should be noted here that “naked partisanship” is a subject Moscow Mitch knows a little something about. In fact, it is an area where he can claim significant expertise, having earned the equivalent of any number of graduate degrees in placing party, in his case the GOP, over country. His handling of impeachment, and the boast that he essentially could really care less about the dirty finagling of Dear Leader, who happens to be a member of the same party, render him to partisanship what Einstein was to theoretical physics.

His strident defense for seeking to quickly deep-six the proceedings is quintessential McConnell – attack the opposing side in an area where you are most vulnerable, thus turning the tables. In this case, he suggests it’s ridiculous to think that Democrats like Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, of New York, haven’t already made up their minds to convict and give Trump the heave-ho. This impeachment proceeding, he said, is not a judicial event but a political gala, meaning it’s perfectly appropriate to take a stand in cement before testimony begins.

So there.

But it’s McConnell, not the Democrats, who holds the cards in establishing the rules. And the idea that ol’ Root-‘n-Branch will seek the truth like Diogenes seeking an honest man is simply laughable. Mitch will do everything he can to protect Trump from the slings and arrows, including, if he’s able, pertinent evidence.

It’s certainly possible at this early stage that evidence presented in Trump’s defense – former National Security Advisor John Bolton has expressed a willingness to testify – could exonerate the president and force those with a predilection to toss him out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to change course. But Mitch has indicated he doesn’t want to take that chance, which should tell you something.

McConnell has made no secret of his desire to dispense with this impeachment unpleasantness at the speed of light so he can return to helping Trump run the nation into a ditch. He has refused to commit to hearing from potential witnesses regarding the president’s doings, has bragged that he is working with the administration hand-in-glove on the proceedings and sought to solicit campaign funds with an ad in which he states, “The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority with me as majority leader”

It’s no wonder Trump is the first president to reside in the White House in a long time who doesn’t have a pet dog – with Mitch around he doesn’t need one.

Regardless, McConnell certainly doesn’t sound like a lawmaker who is required to take an oath before impeachment proceedings begin to render “impartial justice.’’ His mind is made up before hearing the first bit of evidence and there exists absolutely no reason to think he is determined to get at the truth. Instead, we can expect him to find some way to throw a monkey wrench into the works when the trial begins next week.

Here’s what we know about the case. Some members of the Trump administration brought pressure on the newly-elected president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to publicly declare he was initiating an investigation into the conduct of Biden, who during his tenure as vice president under President Barack Obama sought and succeeded in ousting a powerful prosecutor for failing to address that nation’s widespread corruption.

That pressure took the form of withholding $400 million in military aid at a time when Ukraine felt threatened by an aggressive Russia. Zelensky was also offered a White House get-together with Trump himself if he agreed to play ball. Trump, in fact, spoke with Zelensky and, according to notes of the conversation, asked him for a favor.

Biden was in the sights because he is considered the front-runner among Democrats to challenge Trump’s re-election bid later this year. It also happens that Biden’s son, Hunter, served in a well-paid position with Ukraine energy giant Burisma.

Critics contend the prosecutor was actually looking into Burisma, jeopardizing the goose that laid the golden egg for Biden’s son, leading the old man to act.

That claim has been investigated from here to eternity and no one has come up with any evidence of wrongdoing. Biden was carrying out U.S. policy at the time as well as working with the support of America’s European allies.

New evidence keeps coming in since the House voted to impeach and the promise of additional facts is in the offing if the Senate agrees to take testimony.

Documents released this week suggested that former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch was under surveillance by individuals linked to President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

Yovanovitch was recalled from her post last May in wake of claims by Trump surrogates that she was undermining the president’s effort to pressure Zelensky regarding Biden.

You can bet there’s plenty of fire to go along with this smoke. And McConnell will make sure the blaze goes unabated

The NKyTribune’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com.

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