Soon, the impeachment ball will be in the Senate’s court. Leader Mitch McConnell has been working with the president’s attorneys, indicating he has no intention of creating a trial process that would lead to the truth. The “trial” is merely a game and McConnell is out to win it.

At its conclusion, we can expect President Trump will take a victory lap proclaiming his “complete and total exoneration” from the impeachment “witch hunt,” as he did following the Mueller report despite Mueller’s contrary conclusion.

The House is sending an indictment that is strong, but as Republicans frequently point out, lacks direct testimony and back-up documentation from players closest to the dirt-for-weapons scheme. Trials frequently add new evidence and testimony not available at the time of indictment. McConnell, however, refuses to “do House Democrats homework for them” (i.e., call witnesses) despite the willingness of at least one important witness, John Bolton, to testify.

We know how this story will end. But is it possible that intelligent Republicans believe what they will proclaim? Would the least bit of critical thinking lead to a belief in the president’s innocence? I ask my Republican friends to consider which is more likely:

1. That a deep state cabal exists involving scores of liberal leaders within government intelligence and cabinet agencies secretly conspiring to bring down the Trump administration, out of sight of their conservative colleagues, or that we have an ethically-challenged president with a long history of promoting conspiracy theories who deflects blame and attacks anyone with the audacity to question his behavior?

2. That all mainstream journalists from media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS — all of whom compete with each other for readers/viewers — are dishonestly conspiring to bring down the Trump administration through biased impeachment reporting, or that one television network and various conservative commentators are shilling for the president, repeating and amplifying any far-fetched story the administration wants to promote?

3. That the president’s Ukrainian investigation was led by Rudy Guliani, the president’s personal attorney, because he alone had the most relevant knowledge and expertise to run such an investigation, or that Trump fired Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, created a shadow policy team that ignored input from career diplomats, and avoided a Department of Justice investigation because the president wanted to minimize interference and accountability in his pursuit of dirt on Biden?

4. That career diplomats and public servants with stellar reputations, at great peril to themselves, lied about the abuses of power they saw and heard, or that Republicans attempted to diminish and challenge the reputations these exemplary Americans to explain away the president’s inexcusable behavior?

5. That an innocent president would, for the first time in history, assert absolute executive privilege, instructing senior aides and cabinet officials not to testify regarding matters over which they had first-hand knowledge and refuse to produce documents that could exonerate him, or that the president failed to cooperate because once the stone wall came down, his true motives would be plain for all to see and all of the deflection and Republican talking points about impeachment fairness and procedure could no longer protect him?

When I first read the July 25 letter from Trump to Zelensky, I was convinced that Trump requested a quid pro quo. Nevertheless, with some effort I could understand how someone motivated to believe otherwise could argue that position at that time. However, after all we have learned, I am mystified that intelligent people continue to believe the letter was an innocent request for an impartial corruption investigation. Context and reason matter.

Once again, President Trump will likely escape any consequences for his corrupt behavior. Someday, however, his supporters will have to explain why they enabled this president and why, at this historical moment, they promoted partisan expediency over America’s interests.

Sometime after Trump leaves office, all of the documents he withheld will be released. Routine emails about the Ukraine debacle, as well as information that was redacted, spuriously classified and hidden away on secret servers will see the light of day. On that day, McConnell’s brief mission accomplished moment may look more like the day Republicans said “meh” to their duty and the truth.

Steve Bacon is a retired administrator and longtime resident of Bakersfield