Saturday, December 28, 2019

UPDATED: A Unified GOP Impeachment Strategy

While the idea of a blowout, all-the-witnesses-in-the-world, Senate trial was tempting, I eventually came down on the side of refusing to dignify the Dem House Impeachment Theater in that way. That aspect of the anti-Trump coup attempt is probably better handled in the long run by Barr and Durham.

In the meantime, Mitch McConnell has been sounding out the Senate GOP and coordinating with the White House. According to The Hill (via the NY Post), Trump impeachment: Senate GOP reportedly unites behind a no-witness trial, the Senate GOP and White House have come up with a grand unified strategy of sorts:

After weeks of behind-the-scenes debate, Senate Republicans have hit on their strategy for handling President Trump’s impeachment: a brief trial — with no witness testimony — and a fast acquittal. 
“I’m ready to vote now,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) told The Hill. “I think the articles are a joke.” 
But they don’t want to dismiss the House Democrats’ charges out of hand, as some Trump allies have proposed. 
“It’s time for him to have his day in court,” Hawley said. “The president deserves to have due process.” 
Trump, who was calling for a full-blown trial with multiple witnesses — including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter — just three weeks ago, now supports the Senate leadership’s plan. 
“The facts belie the allegation and the facts speak very strongly for themselves,” Eric Ueland, White House director of legislative affairs, said last week.

Of course, this may require a change in the Senate rules governing impeachment, to allow the Senate to begin without having had the articles "transmitted" by the House. That's if Pelosi remains obstinate.

The Hill's account provides lots more in the way of quotes from GOP senators offering their views, but the consensus has turned to: the shorter the better, but we want an acquittal, not a dismissal:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said his goal is “to have as short a trial as possible.” 
“I think there's a desire by senators, quite honestly, to get this chapter closed and moved forward,” Graham told reporters.  
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said that when it comes to a trial “shorter is better,” and that he thought his colleagues were coalescing behind that.  
“I think shorter is better for lots of reasons,” Cramer said. “I think people are ready to move on.”  
Republicans are also stressing though that they don’t want to simply dismiss the articles against Trump. The House voted earlier this month to impeach Trump on two counts: one charging him with abuse of power in his dealings with Ukraine and the second with obstructing Congress during its investigation of those actions. 
“I’m ready to get this thing and get it done,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.). “It’s time for him to have his day in court. … I don’t want to a vote to dismiss. I want a vote to acquit. The president deserves to have due process.”  
Graham, who previously advocated dismissing the articles, added that a “motion dismissed will not stand. … I don't want a motion to dismiss. I want a vote on the articles themselves.”  
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has emerged as a close ally of Trump’s, has floated trying to dismiss the article, including telling The Washington Post in November that he would make the motion “as soon as we possibly can.” A motion to dismiss would need 51 votes, and members of GOP leadership have suggested it would fall short.  
Asked after the House impeachment vote if he still wanted to dismiss the articles instead of going through a trial, Paul sidestepped, telling The Hill that the “whole idea of the impeachment inquiry was ill-conceived … so I think the quicker it can be done the better.”

UPDATE: We previously discussed the House's motives in this rushed impeachment: The Rushed Impeachment--Now We Know Why. However, CTH has a nice reprise of the issue today, which they covered before: Anticipate House Impeachment Articles After January 3rd, 2020 – Oral Arguments for Mueller Grand Jury Material.


  1. I too have come around to the opinion that the Senate should not allow any new witnesses.

    I think that, compared to a court trial, the House proceedings should be like the presentation of evidence and witnesses, and the Senate proceedings should be like the closing arguments and the jury deliberations.

    I hope that this understanding will be established as a lasting precedent by the current impeachment of President Trump.

    1. If this had been reasonably close to a court trial, I could go along with that. But it hasn't been. Unless I missed something, only the prosecution was allowed to present its case. Where are the defense witnesses?

      This has been all prosecution all the time. Worse, it's a frame-up, with no defense allowed except what a small number of Republican Representatives could squeeze in here and there. The entire narrative has been controlled by the Democrats and their media arm.

      President Trump's side of the story needs to be told. That can't happen with no witnesses, no testimony, and no additional documents presented.

      Give the country a fair trial-like proceeding in the House, and your approach would make sense. But that cannot happen whenever Democrats control the House. It would have the effect of depriving every Republican president of the opportunity for self-defense whenever Democrats control the House, and is therefore, in my opinion, a bad idea.


    2. DFinley, I agree. Mike's schema might appear nice in theory, but it would be essentially unenforceable. OTOH, hopefully the Senate's response here, when it comes, will have the effect of forcing future Houses to reconsider repetition of this Impeachment Theater. More in the direction of what Mike suggests.

  2. I don't think I can bring myself to view it as precedent. It is a rebuke of the House by the Senate. Hopefully that should not need to be repeated.

  3. My comment goes beyond this, but it is relevant to topic.

    I am truly p-oed at the GOP/Republican party and not much short of kissing Trump's ring will ameliorate.

    The GOP, in general, refused to support Trump as a candidate and when he won did not help him properly staff his administration.

    Even worse, some were working to subvert.

    Republicans have used Trump to get through much needed things like judges refuting soundly Supreme Court Chief Roberts.

    However, it is only now, when their power is clearly shown to be jeapordized, that they unite.

    Eff them all.

    I voted for W 4 times, governor and president, McCain, and Romney.

    What happened when a Republcan dared to fight back? They made him pledge to abide by the constitutional results of an election and then refused to fully suppprt him till now.

    If the Republicans revert to norm after Trump, I see no reason to vote anymore.

    Sorry, that is the way I see it.

    However, if they continue what Trump started, fighting fire with fire, then they will have my vote.

    1. I think you make a lot of sense.

      Unfortunately, not voting for Republicans necessarily entails rule by democrats.

      Faithless or feckless. Take your pick.

  4. Yeah, if it's a choice between a party of Mussolinis, vs. a party of Hitlers, I'll swallow hard, and go with Bennie's guys.

  5. I just want to point out the continuing media misunderstanding of Trump. They continue the practice of taking Trump "literally," at his word, rather than understanding the communication tactics he deploys as opening gambits and veiled "threats" in order to keep the media, and his opposition-resistance completely wrong-footed.

    Here's a perfect example from above:

    -->"Trump, who was calling for a full-blown trial with multiple witnesses — including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter — just three weeks ago, now supports the Senate leadership’s plan."<--

    Trump is a negotiator, not a politician, so he makes opening statements which are fluid starting points, not a statement of a fixed and final position or conclusion. Media and especially Dems continue to get this wrong.

    1. Very true. He also understands that political reality, just like business reality, is often fluid. He has stuck, so far, to the principles that got him elected. But impeachment isn't a matter of principle at this point so much as a matter of tactics.