Some top Democrats and pundits argue that a delay is Trump’s worst nightmare.
By delaying the trial, so they argue, Trump’s credibility will be further eroded by a steady stream of new information about his now well-documented push for Ukraine to investigate political rivals.
Democrats, in this scenario, will gain valuable leverage to extract concessions from Senate Republicans on the terms of the trial.
But there is a risk the strategy could backfire and do more damage to Democrats seeking to win back the presidency in 2020 than to the Republicans trying to retain it.
A clue of how Trump and his allies could seek to turn the situation to their advantage came in a tweet by Trump on Thursday night — when he accused his Democratic opponents of stalling.
“The House Democrats were unable to get even a single vote from the Republicans on their Impeachment Hoax,” Trump said. “The Republicans have never been so united! The Dem’s case is so bad that they don’t even want to go to trial!”
It’s likely that the president and his allies will seek to build on this attack, portraying Democrats as intent solely on delay and obstruction, frustrating the process of impeachment they initiated for petty partisan ends.
It’s a narrative the Republicans have long sought to drive home, deployed to great effect in Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Trump has touted himself as an outsider and disrupter, intent on “draining the swamp,” challenging the Washington establishment, and capitalizing on the contempt many Americans have for a Congress that has long been in deadlock.
The Trump campaign has spent millions on digital ads portraying impeachment as a plot by Democrats born of narrow partisan goals. This has, the ads say, left the machinery of Congress ground to a halt while urgent problems such as healthcare and immigration go neglected.
Trump has branded his opponents the “do nothing Democrats” in tweets and rally speeches, while the pro-Trump New York Post described Pelosi as the “swamp mistress” on its Wednesday front-page report on impeachment proceedings.