Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Senate isn’t required to hold an impeachment trial at all

Forget for the moment the question of when Nancy Pelosi will send over the articles of impeachment. Does the Constitution require Mitch McConnell to do anything with them except perhaps give the House a receipt? Georgetown law professor Bradley Blakeman argued yesterday evening in The Hill (via Twitchy) that an impeachment trial is neither required or needed, especially in this instance.
To be fair, Blakeman does write that the Senate will be required to take some action, but that it doesn’t have to be a trial. All McConnell needs to do, Blakeman writes, is to call a vote to dismiss before a trial even starts — and that would require only a simple majority, as it is just a procedural motion. McConnell has publicly stated that he has no choice but to start a trial, but has also mentioned instant dismissal as an option for three months, so this is nothing new.
Blakeman then steps through all of the other options open to McConnell, including a non-instant dismissal, a full-blown immediate trial with a vote on whether to convict or a vote to dismiss, or what Blakeman calls “the nuclear option”:
And then there is a “nuclear option.” The Senate majority could make a procedural motion to adjourn the start of a trial until Nov. 4, 2020. That would allow the American people to decide the president’s fate at the ballot box. The Constitution is silent as to when a trial should occur, timewise. A simple majority of 51 votes would be necessary to pass such a motion.
It’s not in anyone’s interest to keep this going for another ten months, though. Pelosi’s bluffing about the delay, but McConnell and the White House don’t want this particular Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads throughout an election cycle either. There’s always the prospect of more testimony coming out from disgruntled former insiders that will turn impeachment into a bigger negative for Republicans than it is now, which would also put pressure on them to open a trial more expeditiously and in more depth as well.
Blakeman’s larger point hits the mark more accurately. The problem with any of the trial options is that it’s going to be just an extension of the House’s Kabuki theater, only in the other direction. Everyone already knows how it will turn out, in large part because the House’s impeachment is so defective:
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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