While there are obviously some people who think that House Democrats will fail in their efforts to schedule a vote on impeachment, the smart money seems to be on the idea that they’ve got the votes and will go ahead and impeach Donald Trump. So how is the President feeling about all of this?
I have no doubt he’s a bit angry about it and would prefer things to have played out differently, but he’s always ready for a fight. The attitude coming out of the White House sounds more like “bring it on.” In fact, the President recently declared that he “wants a trial.” And as NY Post columnist Michael Goodwin sees it, this could entirely backfire on the Democrats when the matter goes to trial in the Senate.
Here’s my slam-dunk choice for the Quote of the Year: “I want a trial.”
The President of the United States said that Friday morning, and his title alone would be reason enough to make it the most significant thing said in 2019. But there’s much more to it because Donald Trump’s demand highlights the historically unique set of circumstances he and the nation face in 2020…
Given the flimsy allegations and the unfair, one-party nature of the House process, beating impeachment in the Senate seems close to a sure thing. And doing so would dramatically boost Trump’s chances of getting four more years.
Indeed, it’s probable that as impeachment goes, so goes the election.
While it’s not a sure thing yet, Nancy Pelosi should eventually be able to whip up 218 votes. By that point, the impeachment vote will be a foregone conclusion. Her caucus would revolt if they knew the votes were there and they didn’t move forward.
But as Goodwin points out, this thing only ends in one of two ways because of the two-step constitutional nature of the impeachment process. If the Speaker can’t get enough votes, Trump declares victory and the country is left wondering why they wasted all of this time.
But if they do impeach the President, the action shifts to the Senate. The Schiff Show (as it’s come to be known) was little more than a kangaroo court, with Democrats setting all the rules of order and keeping an iron grip on who was allowed to speak and for how long. In the upper chamber, however, the roles will be reversed. And that’s going to make for some painful moments for Trump’s detractors.
For one thing, the trial will be expected to follow federal rules on evidence and procedures. That means no hearsay evidence will be allowed, and that’s pretty much the entirety of what passed for evidence in the House hearings. And unlike Schiff’s rigged game, Trump’s lawyers will have broad discretion in calling witnesses. In short, as Goodwin notes, Team Trump will go on the attack and essentially put his accusers on trial.
When the smoke clears and it’s time for the Senators to vote, the Democrats would need to flip roughly twenty Republicans and get them to vote to remove Trump from office. When that fails to happen, we’re back to the scenario where Trump claims he’s totally vindicated and fundraises off the impeachment circus from then until the election.
Goodwin speculates that as the impeachment trial goes, so goes the general election. I’m not ready to go quite that far yet because there’s plenty of drama left in the third act of this show. But I’ll definitely agree that the President’s prospects for a second term will be improved if this all plays out the way I described above.