The live TV impeachment inquiry circus is for now over. The procedural parts are ready to begin. Both sides, the Republicans and Democrats, will have to decide which tactical moves they will now make.
Adam Schiff, who presided over the investigative part, wrote to his colleagues that he wants to immediately move forward:
As required under House Resolution 660, the Committees are now preparing a report summarizing the evidence we have found this far, which will be transmitted to the Judiciary Committee soon after Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess.
Chairman Nadler and the Members and staff of the Judiciary Committee will proceed in the next phase of the impeachment inquiry.
Nadler will write up articles of impeachment which will be referred to the whole House to vote on them. No Republican is likely to vote for impeaching Trump. It would be political suicide to do so. The Democrats have 233 Representatives and need 218 votes for a majority decision. They can afford a few abstentions but not too many.
At least one House Democrat, Brenda Lawrence from the swing state Michigan, has said that she will no longer support impeachment but that she prefers to censure the president instead of impeaching him. A censure is a formal reprimand by a majority vote that has no further consequences.
More are likely to follow that path as several recent polls show that impeachment is no longer en vogue:
The latest national poll from Emerson College finds 45 percent oppose impeaching President Trump, against 43 percent who support it. That’s a 6-point swing in support from October, when 48 percent of voters supported impeachment and only 44 percent opposed.More importantly, the poll shows more independents now oppose impeachment than support it, a significant change from Emerson’s polling in October. The new poll found 49 percent oppose impeachment compared to 34 percent who support it. In October, 48 percent of independents polled supported impeachment, against 39 percent who opposed.
Since October, Emerson has found Trump’s job approval rating jump by 5 points, from 43 percent to 48 percent.
This is the second poll this week to show voters are increasingly likely to oppose impeachment, ..
Even Democrats are losing interest in the issue. There is also this curious issue:
Josh Jordan @NumbersMuncher – 13:32 UTC · Nov 26, 2019CNN Poll: There is a *forty* point gender gap with regards to impeaching and removing Trump.
Men oppose impeachment 40-53 while women favor it 61-34.
That’s a pretty stunning contrast.
If more Democratic swing-state representatives defect from the impeachment camp, which seems likely, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a big problem. How can she proceed?
- If the House votes down impeachment Donald Trump wins.
- If the House holds no vote on the issue Donald Trump wins.
- If the House votes for censure Donald Trump will have won on points and the issue will be over.
- If the House votes for impeachment the case goes to the Senate for trial.
The Republican led Senate has two choices:
- It can decide to not open an impeachment trial by simply voting against impeachment. Trump wins.
- It can open a impeachment trial, use it to extensively hurt the Democrats and, in the end, vote against impeachment. Trump wins big time.
Should the House vote for impeachment the Senate is likely to go the second path.
During impeachment the whole Senate sits as the High Court. The House of Representatives sends ‘managers’ who act as prosecutors. The chief justice of the U.S. presides. A vote for impeachment at the end of the trial requires a two-third majority.
The Republican majority in the Senate could use such a trial to bring disarray into the Democrats’ primary. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet are all senators and Democratic primary candidates. They would probably have to stop campaigning to attend the trials. Another leading Democratic candidate would be a top witness.
The Republican senators would immediately call up a number of people for questioning. These would include Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, his business partner Devon Archer, John Kerry who was Secretary of State when Biden intervened for Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky and of course the CIA spy and (not-)whistleblower Erik Ciaramella. It would also be of interest to hear how deep the former CIA director John Brennan was involved in the issue.
The Senators could use the impeachment trial to dig into all the crimes the Democrats under Obama committed in Ukraine. They would concentrate not on the Maidan coup but on the aftermath when the deals were made. There surely is a lot of dirt out there and it is not only Joe Biden’s.
Then there is Russiagate. Did the Obama administration use illegal means to spy on the Trump campaign? As the issue is related to whatever Trump did there is good reason to include it into the trial.
The circus the Senate would open if the House votes for impeachment would play for many many months. The media would be full of this or that crime some Democrat or deep state actor supposedly committed. All this would play out during the election season.
An impeachment trial in the Senate would be a disaster for the Democrats.
I can not see why the Democrats would want to fall into such a trap. House leader Nancy Pelosi is experienced enough to not let that happen. But she will have to do some serious talking to convince the party that a vote on impeachment is not the best way to proceed.
The only sensible alternative is to censure Trump and that is why it is likely the way Nancy Pelosi will want to go. A partisan vote to censure Trump will do no damage to him but the Democrats would have at least done ‘something’ – even if it was only gesturing.
The whole impeachment show did little damage to Trump. His approval numbers are still fine. The show has given Trump another chance to run as the underdog who will drain the swamp in Washington DC. A major Democratic candidate is now damaged goods. Joe Biden no longer has any chance to win the presidency and it would be astonishing if he survives the primaries. The U.S. relations with the Ukraine have also been seriously damaged.
All this was easily predictable two months ago when the Democrats launched their impeachment show:
Instead of running on policy issues the Democrats will (again) try to find vague dirt with which they can tarnish Trump. This is a huge political mistake. It will help Trump to win his reelection.After two years of falsely accusing Trump of having colluded with Russia they now allege that he colludes with Ukraine. That will make it much more difficult for the Democrats to hide the dirty hands they had in creating Russiagate. Their currently preferred candidate Joe Biden will get damaged.
The Democrats are giving Trump the best campaign aid he could have wished for. Trump will again present himself as the victim of a witch hunt. He will again argue that he is the only one on the side of the people. That he alone stands with them against the bad politicians in Washington DC. Millions will believe him and support him on this. It will motivate them to vote for him.
The Democrats should ask themselves how they put themselves into the current situation. Who was the genius who came up with the (not-)whistleblower idea and pushed for the move. The shallow-brained Adam Schiff? The devious John Brennan?
Whoever it was the Democrats should shun that person before it creates more damage to their party.
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