There was some talk about this idea last week:
There’s a growing view that unless McConnell agrees to hold a fair trial, the House should vote to impeach but not send the articles to the Senate. If the Senate won’t do its job honestly, they shouldn’t be allowed to do it dishonestly.
— Ian Bassin (@ianbassin) December 16, 2019
The notion is gaining some currency this week since Chuck Schumer demanded documents and submitted witness requests to Mitch McConnell, who is in control of the trial and doesn’t have to produce documents or compel witnesses to appear. Congressional Dems know that, and I assume they’ve thought through another impeachment hack that was floated earlier, i.e., asking the Chief Justice to rule on compelling witnesses to appear during the trial in the Senate. Steve M at No More Mr. Nice Blog says there’s no one weird trick, so they should hold the damned trial:
Now that impeachment is under way, force Trump to endure the House vote and the Senate trial. Let him squirm — the shame is getting to him. He’ll beat the rap and claim victory, but damage will be done.
I think it’s clear Trump doesn’t want to be impeached, and though he’s been assured he won’t be removed (he probably hounds McConnell for a whip count daily), the process is making him even loopier than usual. But to answer the question at hand, let’s take a step back and review what our objectives are. We went into this impeachment inquiry knowing that Congressional Republicans won’t hold Trump accountable. The goals were to:
- Uphold the U.S. Constitution by affirming that no president is a monarch
- Focus public attention on Trump’s criminality and corruption
- Expose Republican complicity and hypocrisy
IMO, Democrats have achieved goals 1 and 2 about as well as they could have within the limits of their power as one half of one branch of government. Public support for impeaching and removing Trump rose sharply when the Ukraine scandal broke and has stayed pretty steady since, with a plurality saying Trump should be impeached and removed. So there’s probably not much more ground to be gained on goal 2, especially in a trial that McConnell controls.
Republicans have done their part to achieve goal 3, and polling reflects that — most people think Republicans are the partisan actors here, despite the constant HOAX-WITCH HUNT-PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT whining, the machinations of the corrupt AG, and the maximum efforts of the wingnut propaganda outlets combined with reflexively shitty Beltway media framing.
One argument folks (including John Dean) have made for impeaching in the House and not forwarding articles to the Senate is that Democrats could keep up oversight activities and would have the option to add more articles, which might serve as a check on further attempts to hijack the 2020 election. I don’t find that convincing. The House will fulfill its oversight role as best it can with 100% obstruction from the executive branch, but Trump will continue to be shamelessly corrupt until he leaves office by whatever means.
For me, it boils down to this question: which option would extract maximum political pain from elected Republicans? I’m leaning toward thinking a trial that McConnell & Co. have already announced would be rigged would reflect most poorly on the Republican Party, underscoring that they’re corrupt henchmen for a criminal president. What do you think?