In an opening play in the impeachment drama that will almost surely reach the Senate, President Donald Trump has decided not to ask Senate Republicans to kill the articles of impeachment that may come out of the House against him.
It would take 51 votes to do that — and with 53 in the GOP Senate caucus, the votes may not be there to accomplish the cancellation of a trial.
A vote to do so would also put GOP senators in an awkward situation.
Vote to cancel a trial — and feel the wrath of the media and perhaps swing voters.
Vote to go ahead with a trial — and feel the pain from the Republican base and the legions of spitting-angry Trump voters right now.
The president is actually better served by going ahead with a trial; it would be presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts, where evidence could be presented and witnesses could be called that would support the president’s case.
This would stand in stark contrast to the House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry thus far —which has been a one-sided put-up job that ran roughshod over common legal procedures.
“There’s nothing there,” Trump declared on “Fox & Friends” on Friday morning about the House inquiry. He added, “There should never be an impeachment” and he “doesn’t know” the majority of the witnesses. And after his meeting with senators on Thursday, the president mentioned on the program that if the House does impeach him, “Frankly, I want a trial.”
He added he would want to call both Hunter Biden and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as witnesses.
In such a Senate trial, the president could also call a host of other characters.
All of this would seriously undermine the prosecution’s case — and make the trial a poison pill for the Democrats in an election year.
However, there is the issue of timing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could sit on the topic of impeachment for months, deeming it to be fair play after the GOP never gave a Senate vote to former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
Pelosi could hand over the process to the Senate during the GOP convention, during the debates, or even during the time immediately leading up to 2020’s Election Day.
Then there is the report from Michael Horowitz, the inspector general for the Department of Justice; his report on alleged FBI surveillance abuses against the Trump 2016 campaign is coming out within about two weeks, apparently.
There’s also the Durham investigation. John Durham is the federal prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Bill Barr to conduct an investigation of the intelligence gathered for the Russia probe by the CIA and other agencies, including the FBI.
It is possible that these and other probes and investigations — and the fallout from them — could hit the media and the public somewhere around the spring.
Think there is a news overload now? Times it by four or five — and that is a possible early 2020 scenario. But that could be the Democrat strategy.
They could think the scandal overload may make the American people throw up their hands in frustration and say, “A pox on all houses!”
Accordingly, many voters may vote against the president just to make the controversy and all its attendant noise go away.
This scenario becomes more attractive to them if Biden is the nominee with a leftist and female running mate like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Warren could hold Biden’s left flank while Biden runs to the middle and threatens the GOP in swing states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
If white, working-class voters switched in relatively few numbers in those states, the GOP’s Electoral College advantage would be in serious peril.
However, if the GOP can get a Senate trial in the spring and the president is acquitted — then he runs in the fall with vindication and the wind at his back.
So hold onto your seats for the almost-certain bumpy ride ahead.
Share your thoughts on all of this below.