In the immediately preceding post, I laid out the four possible lines of defense. If Trump were thinking logically, which would he choose?
I will answer my own question.
The best alternative by far would be to admit that he conditioned Ukrainian military aid on a Ukrainian announcement that they would open some investigations of the Democrats, and argue that, in so acting, he did not commit an offense worthy of impeachment. There are five powerful considerations that would lead a rational Trump to adopt this posture. (They are all compelling, and I don’t know how to rank order them by importance, so I’ll mention them in random order.)
One. The dividing line between impeachable bad conduct and bad conduct that doesn’t merit impeachment is amorphous, undefined, loosy goosy—whatever term you like.
That means that, whatever bad thing you or your guy did, you can always move the goalpost so it’s just a little bit north of the bad conduct that actually occurred.
Your argument to move the goalpost may be bad and it may be unpersuasive, but at least it doesn’t insult your listeners’ intelligence.
Two. As far as we can tell right now, Trump has no alternative narrative about the Ukrainian extortion. Evidently, he cannot give an explanation for why he decided to withhold the military aid, and when he decided to withhold it. Some spoke loosely of withholding aid “pending an interagency review.” But interagency reviews leave paper trails. Any paper trail here to evidence the purported review? And, evidently, he cannot explain why he decided to relent and let the aid flow after all—but for the obvious explanation that he got caught.
It’s as if he wants to blame the blueberry pie consumption on his older brother—but he doesn’t have an older brother.
Three. Asking your supporters to claim they believe an obvious fairy tale insults their intelligence, imposes severe cognitive dissonance on them, and tends to alienate any rational people who remain among your supporters.
Four. Asking your supporters to claim they believe an obvious fairy tale tacitly admits that what you actually did was impeachable as hell.
It tells everybody that if you did what you actually good, then your goose is cooked.
You’re done, stick a fork in.
Five. Bill Clinton got away with the “bad but not impeachable defense,” so why shouldn’t you?
So, that’s what Trump would do if he were acting logically.
But what will he actually do?
Ask Nostradamus, don’t ask me.