So Nancy Pelosi has asked committee chairs to begin drawing up articles of impeachment. It’s widely reported that the House Dems want to have the articles voted on before Christmas, although I don’t see Pelosi giving any deadlines.

It’s my understanding that this doesn’t mean the House has stopped investigating, just that the impeachment vote isn’t going to wait for more evidence that might trickle in.

Are the Dems rushing? Maybe, but Josh Marshall argues that the Dems are better off moving quickly rather than dragging things out. Among other points:

… not allowing the President’s obstruction or the court’s lethargy to dictate the pace of events has allowed Democrats to maintain the initiative pretty much throughout. That is critical. It’s kept the White House off-balance and reacting to the Democrats. Just as it does in combat or sports maintaining the initiative is usually more than half of winning an engagement. I make you react to me and while you’re still reacting I pile still more on top of you. I have little doubt that this dramatically assisted House investigators in securing the testimony they did. It also signals and demonstrates strength, which is both politically advantageous and tends to force positive outcomes.

The evidence they have already provides an overwhelming case for removing Trump from office. Of course, there’s little to no chance that will happen. But I think the trial itself could have an impact on public opinion and the 2020 elections, so how the trial procedes in the Senate is important.

Alison Durkee writes at Vanity Fair that Mitch McConnell is fully prepared to shut Democrats out of the trial.

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he’s preparing a “back-up plan” for figuring out the Senate rules, in case he’s not able to strike a bipartisan deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on how to structure the proceedings. And that plan, apparently, is to try and cut Democrats out entirely. “The first thing Sen. Schumer and I will do is see if there’s a possibility of agreement on a procedure,” McConnell said. “That failing, I would probably come back to my own members and say: ‘OK, can 51 of us agree how we’re going to handle this?’” The Majority Leader added that he wasn’t sure if he’d prefer a bipartisan deal or working solely with Republicans, telling reporters, “it would depend on what we would agree to.” Should both the bipartisan and partisan negotiations fail to figure out the trial procedure, the task would fall to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will be presiding over the trial. Roberts would submit motions to the Senate about the procedure, which could then be passed with 51 votes.

The Constitution is vague about how impeachments should be tried. This is Article I, Section 3, paragraph 6:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

As I wrote in an earlier post, in the two previous impeachment trials the Chief Justice ran the trial the way any judge would run any trial. The judge determines what evidence and witnesses are admissible, among other things. Judges don’t normally have to submit motions to the jury about procedure, I don’t think. If McConnell breaks with precedent and tries to limit the Chief Justice’s role and authority, what would C.J. John Roberts do? Would he go along? Maybe, but I don’t think that’s a certainty. It’s also the case that if McConnell rewrites the old rules to shut out the Democrats, there might be three Republicans who would say no. Assuming all the Dems vote no, three Republicans is all it would take to stop a rule change.

And if John Roberts is allowed genuinely to precide over the trial, he might compell evidence and witnesses we haven’t heard from yet. Or, he might just go along with whatever McConnell wants to do. Lots of ifs here.

If precedent is followed, the House will select managers to present the case to the Senate. In the past, these managers would assume the role of the prosecuting attorneys at the trial. Would McConnell shut them out, too?

Martin Longman writes,

One thing I’d like to say right now at the outset is that I’d like the House managers who will prosecute the case in the Senate to ask Chief Justice John Roberts to demand the presence of John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pompeo. These witnesses, and a few others at the State Department and Office of Management and Budget, are key to understanding the full parameters of the Ukraine scandal, and there is no reason that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who presides as the judge of a Senate impeachment trial, cannot unilaterally enforce congressional subpoenas on the spot. He can also rule on any executive privilege claims on the spot.

McConnell no doubt knows this also and may try to limit the Chief Justice’s role to just keeping order in the court. To me, this pre-trial jockeying may be the most significant part of the whole process.

Finally, where is public opinion going? The Real Clear Politics polling average has “impeach and remove” at 48 percent and “no impeachment and removal” at 46.2 percent, so it’s close. Five Thirty Eight breaks it down a bit more, showing that a whopping majority of Democrats but hardly any Republicans favor removal; independents are 50-50.  And so it goes.

4 thoughts on “Next?

  1. The reason McConnell won't try to dismiss as soon as the case is in his ball park is – the election. The reason the Democrats are doing this with little chance of removing Trump is – the election. This is theater for both sides. The outcome of the 2020 election and the future of the country is at stake. No big deal.

    Democrats are energized and angry. The Republican cultists are deeply engaged. That there will be huge turnout by both sides in Nov 2020 is not in doubt. What is in play is the non-cultist independent conservative-leaning voter. Many Independents won't vote for a Democrat if Jesus Christ endorsed him/her. But they might be so disgusted by Trump they will stay home. Not voting IS voting. 

    In 2016, I couldn't vote. Felony status. My wife did NOT vote because she could not stand HRC. (Which I understood, but she cast a vote for Trump by abstaining.)  I bring that up because Trump may be in the reverse situation in 2020. Voters who don't like the Democrat may sit out the election to try to restore conservatism nd reject Trumpism. 

    That's what the theater is about and nobody understands the risk more than Trump.

  2. Unlike other investigations, this one has produced considerable evidence of wrongdoing, and cover up of those wrongdoings.  Although much of the evidence is public, much remember remains shielded by confidentiality.  We as a public are not allowed to know this part, and must depend on out elected officials to make proper judgement on this information hidden from us.  

    Still we are polled, and knowing only a part of what has transpired most people think impeachment is the proper thing to do.. l am quite sure that figure would change if all Americans had all of the information, though protection of sensitive information has to be respected.  It is not hard to guess that many more Americans would be for impeachment with full transparency into more of the truth of the situation.  We are asked to judge the size of the iceberg with only the above water view.  It is my experience with organizational wrongdoing that this is generally a poor perspective, and underestimates the true size of the problem.  I see no reason to suspect this is not also true here.  

    Remember that the House had the intelligence committee look at and investigate first.  Much of what it looked at was behind closed doors and not made public.  All of us must trust in this committee's judgement upon this evidence. That the House continue the impeachment  process with haste and determination gives evidence to us that this secret information is supportive of continuation of the impeachment process.  Let us not forget that if it was exculpatory, the president could, within his power, declassify it, as he has done numerous previous occasions.  

    One can never be fully confident that strong measures are the right thing to do.  In this case it appears impeachment is not only the right thing to do it is the necessary thing to do.  As to what we do not know, we must have trust in the judgement of those elected.  So far the majority has acted in quite a trustworthy manner.  I wish I could say the same for the minority.   

  3. I hope someone is stage managing the optics of this. IMO, the vote should be after Christmas, not before, when the public isn't distracted with the holiday. Also: the upcoming investigations ideally would come crashing in like breakers at the beach, while the trial is going on.

    If we can't get a conviction in the Senate, then we need to go for maximum damage. Just as a Republican would do.

    At least the Democrats have figured out the importance of momentum, and are able to minimize Trump's stonewalling.

    • If we can't get a conviction in the Senate, then we need to go for maximum damage. Just as a Republican would do.

      moonbat… That's my sentiment also. I wrote a lenghty post expressing that same sentiment but unfortunately I must've hit a wrong key and ended up sending that post out into the cosmos. Well, at least the universe has grown wiser by some degree.

      The one difference  between the expression of our thoughts is that what you describe as going for maximum damage, I described as charging him truthfully without fear of the Senate outcome for the impeachable offenses he has committed.

       I'm a firm believer with loading him up with the truth of his high crimes and misdemeanors. Give him a legacy that will insure he stands out in history for the recognition and notoriety he craves so dearly.

      Another thing is that the Congressmen and women shouldn't self negotiate with their own fears and insecurities. Our motto is..In God We Trust. So, they should just trust in God and load that big bag of shit up with every impeachable offense he has committed.


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