No one who can count has ever thought there was a snowball’s chance that the United States Senate would remove President Trump from office in an impeachment trial. It would require 67 votes for conviction if all Senators are present, and there are only 47 Democrats in the Senate. But now two opponents of the President have hit on another scheme.
Even The Washington Post, which printed their OpEd piece, gave readers a clear warning as to from where the authors come:
George T. Conway III is a lawyer in New York and an adviser to the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super PAC. Neal Katyal, a law professor at Georgetown University, is the author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump” and previously served as the acting solicitor general of the United States.
So, yeah, expect silliness:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has announced that she plans to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, but that does not mean she has lost in the seeming standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over whether to call witnesses at the Senate trial. McConnell has said “there’s no chance the president’s going to be removed from office” and “there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position.” In response, Pelosi still has cards in her hand — if she plays them — because the House approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump.
The first article of impeachment effectively charges the president with shaking down Ukraine; the second impeaches him for his unprecedented obstruction of Congress. That gives the speaker room to maneuver. She could choose to tweak her announcement and send only the second article, on obstruction, for trial. Or she could transmit them both — along with a House-approved provision advising the Senate that if it fails to obtain adequate witnesses and documents, the House will reopen the investigation into Article I and subpoena that material itself.
Separating the two articles — our preferred approach — would make perfect sense. When it comes to the second article, all the evidence about Trump’s obstruction is a matter of public record. There’s nothing more to add, so the second article is ripe for trial. But as to the first, although there is plenty of evidence demonstrating Trump’s guilt, his obstruction has prevented all of the evidence from coming to light.
Since the House voted to approve the articles of impeachment last month, new revelations of Trump’s involvement have emerged, including emails showing that aid was ordered withheld from Ukraine 91 minutes after Trump’s supposedly “perfect” phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, has said he is willing to testify before the Senate if subpoenaed, and Bolton’s lawyer has said he has new information, yet McConnell has balked at assurances that Bolton would be called.
There follows several paragraphs in which the authors make their case that the charges in Article 1 were not sufficiently investigated, but that immediately begs the question: if they were not sufficiently investigated, why did the House pass Article 1 in the first place, rather than spend more time on the investigation? We already know the answer: they had a self-imposed deadline, to get it done before Christmas.
But it’s their concluding two paragraphs which tell us their real motives:
Holding the first article back and letting the second go forward would be a powerful and precise response to McConnell’s unprecedented attempts to avoid committing to a real trial. It makes practical sense but also highlights what’s at stake here. Trump would be forced to undergo two impeachment trials instead of one — but that’s a fair price for him to pay for his attempts to hide evidence from the American people.
If, alternatively, Pelosi sent both articles up with a formal note that the House would step back in if the Senate failed to proceed appropriately, that would be a fair price for McConnell to pay. The speaker would, essentially, be guaranteeing that Trump would face another investigation because of McConnell’s insistence on a sham trial, one that fails to call willing witnesses or deal with relevant, if potentially damaging, evidence.
Messrs Conway — the husband of President Trump’s pollster and close adviser, KellyAnne Conway — and Katyal have, in effect, admitted that President Trump will not be convicted on Article 2, and are suggesting that Mrs Pelosi withhold Article 1 so that the President would face a second impeachment trial after he is acquitted in the first; they want to keep impeaching Mr President well into the year.
And that’s just silliness: if President Trump loses enough support in the Senate that he could possibly be removed from office, he will have lost so much support that he will lose the 2020 election. The authors are suggesting a path which would suck all of the air out of the room, take all publicity away from the remaining Democratic presidential candidates, to make the political season All Trump, All the Time. It would strengthen the resolve of Republican voters, and hurt the Democratic candidates.
Messrs Conway and Katyal are not stupid men, but men grasping at straws: they know that President Trump will be acquitted in the upcoming impeachment trial. Their OpEd piece tells us more, that they both believe that President Trump will be re-elected next November, and that they are clawing away for something, anything, that will change that.
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