New articles of impeachment have been filed in the House. I’m thinking that just about every two years someone files articles of impeachment against every President – but, most of the time, it is mere boilerplate. This time, it might have more to it. The Democrats will do everything they can to harm Trump, of course. They won’t hold back from impeachment based upon the facts of the case or simple decency: if they do it, then it is because they calculated it works best for them.
It won’t happen tomorrow. First, Mueller has to drop his report – which will have nothing, but will hint darkly at this and that horrible thing the President may have done. Then the House will hold well-televised hearings and MSNBC will have to talk shop it for a few news cycles. So, not before, say, April, at the earliest.
The Democrats have the votes to impeach – if Pelosi allows it to come to the floor, then the President will go on trial before the Senate. It is highly unlikely that Democrats will find 20 Republican Senators willing to commit political suicide by voting to remove the President. But, I don’t think that would be the Democrats real desire (they’d take it if they could get it, of course). All they’d really be hoping for is for 51 Senators to vote to convict. While that would not remove Trump from office, it would be devastating to him. The Democrat talking point would be “a majority wanted him removed from office”. Trouble is, I don’t think even Mitt Romney would go along with it. Susan Collins is up for re-election in 2020 and while she wins by attracting Democrats, she does need a united GOP to get over the top. Murkowski isn’t up until 2022, so she might be a possibility – but, once again, she’d risk a pretty ferocious backlash at home should she vote to convict Trump. Democrats would need to find four Republican Senators to get to that 51, and I just don’t see where they get the four.
And that, right there, might get Pelosi to spike any impeachment move. A Senate which voted by a majority to acquit Trump would work out to a vindication of the “witch hunt” accusation. It may boomerang very hard against Democrats – especially as they’ll have no legislative accomplishments to burnish their record heading into 2020. On the other hand, the Democrat base – which, according to polls, believes that Trump got elected because Russia switched votes in 2016 – would be quite furious if Trump isn’t impeached. The Democrats have dangled the red meat of Trump’s removal in front of their base for two years…will they be satisfied with anything less?
Personally, I think the Democrats made a strategic mistake when they followed along with the Team Hillary idea that Trump’s victory was illegitimate. They could have more effectively fought him on policy – what they’ve been fighting him on is his mere existence. His continued existence works out to defeat for the Democrats – and by not accepting him as legitimate, they’ve fairly well foreclosed any possibility of negotiating with him. They’ll have to go into 2020 without having gotten rid of Trump, and without having anything else to show for their efforts.