Here we go, y’all. It’s The Autumn of Impeachment!
Which will become the Winter….and Spring of Impeachment. But none of us thought it would be quick.
So, basically there are only a few scenarios from here on out. First, the House must complete its impeachment inquiry and then develop articles of impeachment. I can’t believe for a moment that the experienced and cautious Speaker Pelosi would let this move forward if she did not think she had enough votes to adopt articles of impeachment. So let’s assume this is going to happen sometime this winter.
Next, the Senate – where Republicans have the slimmest of majorities—holds a trial based on the articles of impeachment adopted by the House. I kind of see this going the way of both other Senate impeachment trials—no majority guilty verdict (Johnson in 1868 and Clinton in 1999). Nixon resigned before the Senate trial convened, knowing he didn’t have the votes.
So likely scenario is that the House adopts impeachment articles. The question then becomes whether Senate Republicans can get 33 votes against impeachment—impeachment requiring a supermajority of 67 votes.
Here’s my take on the folks with the most to lose throughout this fraught process. Speaker Pelosi has been very, very reluctant to engage impeachment hearings. I think that’s smart. When you are surrounded by drama, it makes sense to try not to add to it. One thing clear from the Democratic presidential candidate slate is that the Democrats are divided into factions. The largest risk now is that members of the Democratic caucus start accusing each other of not being diligent enough in pillorying the President.
Congressman Lujan has stayed loyal to his Speaker after spearheading New Mexico’s 2018 blue tsunami, delivering a clean sweep of all open Congressional seats, and most of the rest of the state and local races. He did join Team Impeach in August, along with Congresswoman Haaland, before the Ukraine call was made public. I think Lujan is the one to watch in the NM delegation, and I expect Haaland and Congresswoman Torres Small to follow his lead. Both Lujan and Torres Small have a few counties of strong Trump supporters in their districts.
No one cares what the House Republicans do, they don’t have the votes, and Pelosi would not make the incautious move of moving forward without sufficient D votes. And it isn’t like we have any Congressional Republicans in New Mexico anymore. Although the Senate Republicans have a narrow majority, never has the Senate found a President guilty at an impeachment trial.
What interests me is the thousands of consultants who have already billed millions of dollars across the country in 2020 political races. And the easy button for a lot of these folks on the Republican side is to make their campaign theme “Trumpety Trump Trump.” “I stand with the President” is much easier to say than trying to interpret his Twitter feed.
What if the worst happens (and I am pretty sure it will), and the President is put on trial in an election year (Clinton was term-limited in 2000, and his case was over in early 1999?), will the Trump base even notice or care? President Trump is a master of controlling his narrative and everyone lets him get away with it. A clear answer only comes in the event of a resignation or a guilty verdict. By the time either would transpire, we would be well into primary season. Republican convention delegates will only have the options of Vice President Pence and maybe Joe Walsh or Mark Sanford. Although none of these candidates are exactly on fire, it’s too soon for me to guess at a Democratic nominee for a matchup discussion.
What we do know is that Al Gore lacked the campaign oomph to move past the Clinton administration. And that it was a very tight race. And since the 2000 election we have allowed our political rhetoric to get nastier and meaner. What that tells me is that 2020 is going to completely suck for just about everyone and there will be a lot of yelling, phone banking and attack ads.
One person will definitely survive the oncoming fray: President Trump. And I believe this: he must be impeached to lose the election. He has successfully ignored political cues from the Republican caucus for three years now, so I think resignation very unlikely. If he survives this, he’s going nowhere. And, should he be impeached and lose his office, he’s just going to go back to being a billionaire (who never divested) and probably create another reality TV show.
Whether he is impeached, resigns or neither happens, he will stay on his smartphone and continue doing what he does best: divide and disrupt. Looks to me like Democrats and Republicans are both playing right into it again.