The Senate Republican playbook should be put House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on mute and get this trial started. Pelosi and the Democrats have no say in the matter. They don’t. And by withholding the articles of impeachment against President Trump because they know it faces certain death in the Republican Senate creates a new constitutional crisis of its own. This isn’t about a fair trial. As Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel noted, a trial would only further degrade their position in the polls on this impeachment push. It was never popular from the start, and now it’s underwater nationally. It’s especially not popular in the key swing states that Democrats have to win in 2020. I think Democrats know this is a fiasco, the smart ones at least, but they made a 2018 promise to the base to impeach the president. They have to keep it. Strassel noted that Pelosi isn’t a scrub when it comes to political strategy; she can hang in there with McConnell. But the goal of this whole circus is to keep the idea of impeachment alive. It’s “rolling impeachment,” as Strassel noted. And it’s cancerous to constitutional order, but also the Senate GOP could enable it if they think the end goal is to nab a fair trial (via WSJ):
Republicans dismiss Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to transmit the impeachment articles to the Senate as a weak stunt. They do so at the peril of both the Constitution and President Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be a master tactician, but Mrs. Pelosi is no slouch.
How would it benefit Democrats for the Senate to conduct an efficient and solemn proceeding? The House inquiry was a farce, riddled with procedural gamesmanship and shifting definitions of “high crimes.” A serious Senate trial would only further highlight the weakness of the House case. It would also require Democratic presidential contenders including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar to abandon the stump and return to Washington for most of January, on the eve of the crucial Iowa caucuses—or else shirk their senatorial duty.
Mrs. Pelosi has understood from the start that the inevitable outcome was acquittal. There won’t be 20 Republican votes to remove Mr. Trump from office. So why hasten the president’s vindication? If the goal of this exercise all along was to damage Mr. Trump’s prospects for re-election, why wouldn’t Democrats want to hold an unconsummated impeachment over his head for as long as politically possible?
Think of it as “rolling” impeachment. Every day the Senate doesn’t hold a trial, Mrs. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are free to argue that the process is rigged. They are already claiming that the Senate’s Republican “jurors” have abandoned impartiality, are actively working with Mr. Trump to cover up his crimes, and are afraid to hold a trial.
This bears no relation to reality and is the height of cheek given the House circus. But it’s fodder for the press corps and it may resonate with some voters. More important, it puts daily pressure on Senate Republican moderates to break with Mr. McConnell.
And as long as the Senate doesn’t hold a trial, Democrats can add additional “crimes” to their case against the president. House lawyers this week argued in federal court that former White House counsel Don McGahn must be forced to testify to the House. They told the court the House may “recommend new articles of impeachment” if Mr. McGahn’s testimony included evidence that the president obstructed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
How long will this charade go on? As long as Democrats can get away with it.
“We have a pre-opinion,” Schumer said.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) December 27, 2019
Pour one out for the “impartial juror” talking point. RIP. https://t.co/jlul5rrjjA
Now, as impeachment has dominated the news, the more unpopular it has become. If anything, Trump’s approval rating has increased and pushed the battleground states further out of reach. Now, Strassel noted the pressure on moderate GOP senators. There was a bite; Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)—who said she was “disturbed” by McConnell’s actions regarding handling this impeachment fiasco. Yet, she doesn’t hold 20 markers. Still, Democrats going all-in on this whole push damaging his re-election chances. It’s too late now. In the meantime, this unpopular push that’s seen as nakedly partisan and not in the name of the rule of law and institutional integrity, coupled with the looney left-wing 2020 agenda Democrats are putting out there—is only giving Trump a second term. As annoying as this whole circus is, on face value, it could be positive for Trump since the case is super weak. It all depends on whether the Senate Republicans want to deliver the headshot to this mess.