On December 18th, 2019, the House approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump – one for abuse of power and one for obstruction of Congress.
The first article is tied to Trump’s suggestion that Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and the second is related to Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the congressional investigation into the issue.
When the articles were approved, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she wouldn’t send the articles to the Senate until she was briefed on the specifics of the trial process.
Essentially, she stalled in an attempt to win procedural concessions from the Senate (including a pretrial witness list). And she wants to know the Senate’s plans in order to appoint the best team of lawmakers to act as prosecutors during the case.
On Friday, Pelosi announced the House would move to send the articles to the Senate despite McConnell’s unwillingness to cooperate with her demands. The vote is expected to occur early this week, meaning the Senate trial could begin as early as Wednesday.
For the Senate trial, McConnell says he plans to follow the standard rules used in the 1999 impeachment trial concerning President Bill Clinton and his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
As Trump is expected to do, Clinton survived the Senate trial after he was impeached by the House.
According to the rules, Senate lawmakers will hold a vote on the resolution laying out the trial and a second vote on whether to call in new witnesses (something McConnell does not want to do).
Throwing a wrench in the process is former National Security Adviser John Bolton, a first-hand witness who recently said he would obey a subpoena to testify. The statement prompted Mitt Romney (R-UT) and other GOP lawmakers to call for his testimony.
“I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement on how to proceed with the trial that will allow the opportunity for both the House and the president’s counsel if they choose to do so,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), adding that she is “completely open to calling witnesses.”
Democrats in the upper chamber need only four Republican votes to secure the ability to call new witnesses. Trump says he will block Bolton from testifying.
“I think that the American people have been very fair about saying, yes, we do want to see witnesses,” added Pelosi. “That wasn’t part of the discussion three weeks ago. It is now.”
Another issue for some lawmakers is the requirement that all Senate members participate in the trial, which will occur six days a week once it begins and could drag on for a month or longer. The timing is particularly inconvenient for the five Democratic Senators running for president, who will participate in a primary debate on January 14th. The Iowa causes begin on February 3rd.
Author’s Note: Pelosi milked this for all it was worth; the delay was an opportunity for her to accuse the Senate of not being fair and to publicize it.
Editor’s Note: As you may recall, my own conspiracy theory is that Hillary has been behind all of this in order that Joe Biden would be destroyed clearing the way for her to enter the race.
But the Republicans know that Joe Biden is a horrible candidate and that they can destroy him anytime. That is my theory as to why the Senate does not want a show trial that would be as effective a propaganda campaign as was the House’s impeachment hearings.
Trump has said in his rally speeches that his successes that are this far from the election are easily forgotten and do not last long enough in the polls. Look for successes in North Korea, trade, healthcare and much more to culminate in mid-Summer so as to be remembered for the election.
As for attacks on Joe Biden, they would be well-timed near the Democratic National Convention, either just before, to throw the convention into chaos, or just after, if Joe Biden wins the nomination.