Impeachment Games and Gaming

It’s expected that Nancy Pelosi will transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate by the end of this week. What happens then?

The question of witnesses is still pending. The Senate will vote to adopt the procedures, and it will take a simple majority to allow a trial with no witnesses. It could go either way. At the very least, Chuck Schumer is expected to extract maximum pain from senators up for re-election in purple states.

Schumer will force a series of votes designed to squeeze vulnerable Republicans and harm them on the campaign trail if they side with Trump.

Democrats argue the half-dozen at-risk GOP senators will need some daylight between them and Trump to get reelected. And if they vote against Schumer’s motions to hear new evidence and witness testimony, they’ll be seen as Trump sycophants — undermining their bids and boosting Schumer’s odds of becoming majority leader.

Support for obtaining new documents at the trial is “even stronger than we thought, with large numbers of Republicans supporting it,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview. “And when you go against what the American people feel strongly about, on an issue they’re paying attention to, it’s not a good idea.”

Public surveys in key swing states back up Democrats’ claims.

See also White House expects GOP defections on calling witnesses in Senate impeachment trial. It would only take four Republican defections to force witnesses. That’s not impossible. As I said, it could go either way.

Conservative WaPo columnist Henry Olsen says that Nancy Pelosi gamed the impeachment trial brilliantly. How so? One way is not exactly endearing Nancy to me:

Had she sent the articles immediately after passage, the Senate could have started the trial after returning from the holiday break. Now, however, they won’t be able to start the trial until after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. This means the Senate will be in trial six days a week for the period before the Iowa caucuses and may well be in session through the New Hampshire primary, too. That will likely hurt the progressives’ favorites, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), as they will have to stay in Washington rather than campaign in those crucial early voting states.

Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the “centrist” candidates, will not be so restrained. We don’t know that this was part of Nancy’s calculation, but it could have been.

She also wins by pinning the blame for Trump’s eventual acquittal on McConnell. Democratic failure to persuade Trump backers to even consider impeaching the president has always meant the Senate trial’s outcome is a foregone conclusion. By holding the articles and forcing McConnell to do what he was going to do — run the trial his way — Pelosi gives Democrats a scapegoat for their eventual failure to remove Trump. They can blame McConnell’s allegedly unfair and prejudicial rules for the debacle rather than their own failure to bring even a small portion of the non-Democratic electorate behind them. Since Democrats already view McConnell as a mendacious partisan, this is an easy sell.

Actually, about 43 percent of independents favor removing Trump from office, and more than 50 percent approve of impeachment, so I don’t see how the Democrats failed to “bring even a small portion of the non-Democratic electorate behind them.”