Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. 6 Reasons a Senate Trial Would Be a Nightmare for Democrats

 

Kudos to The Federalist’s David Marcus for an excellent post on the 5 Reasons A Senate Trial Would Be A Nightmare for Democrats. As a former Secretary of the US Senate who is pretty familiar with Senate procedure, I’d like to add a possible sixth: Blocking a “unanimous consent request” or “motion to proceed” to a Senate trial, if permitted under a more expert reading of the rules.

A procedure crafted in the 1950s and first used by the legendary former Senate Majority Leader (and US President) Lyndon Johnson, it always takes unanimous consent – or at least 60 votes to end debate in the 100-member chamber – to proceed to legislation. Thanks to the infamous “Reid Rule,” the 60-vote threshold has been removed for presidential nominations. Any Senator’s power to object to a UC is one very big difference between the House and Senate and gives individual Senators great power.

But for the Senate to proceed to an impeachment trial, the Majority Leader may ask for unanimous consent or could propound a “motion to proceed” to the Senate trial. Most recently, then-Majority Leader Trent Lott did that on the first day of a new Congress in Jan. 6, 1999, for the impeachment trial of one William Jefferson Clinton. No one objected. Obviously, Lott and his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), along with their colleagues, had worked out the procedure in advance, greatly assisted by Senate rules adopted 13 years earlier. Those rules detail the procedure for a trial, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is highly unlikely to deviate from them without strong bipartisan support. And to be clear, some experts believe those 1986 rules require that the Senate must go to trial upon receipt of the House’s impeachment resolution with no intervening mischief.

But possibly, the danger for Democrats is less the trial but having one Senator object to proceeding to a trial. That could trigger at least 30 hours of debate (equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, and only after a cloture motion is filed to end debate). And whether it garners the necessary 60 votes or not, the debate would probably continue for at least another 30 hours.

This debate would give Republicans Senators upset with the highly partisan and deeply unfair House impeachment process ample opportunity to command the Senate’s stage for several days and powerfully outline the House’s abuse of due process and specious nature of the case for impeachment. It also presents an opportunity for senators to discuss the underlying abuse of the counterintelligence investigation to undermine President Trump, as has been outlined in two terrific books — The Plot Against the President by Lee Smith, and Exonerated, by Dan Bongino — and outstanding reporting by John Solomon, Paul Sperry, Byron York, and Margot Cleveland, among others.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff’s corrupt process, where he has virtually unlimited powers to restrict testimony and leak testimony favorable to his cause, will not be a hurdle for well-armed Senate Republicans (and maybe even a Democrat or two). Of course, that would mean someone would need to orchestrate a well-planned and executive effort, complimenting excellent floor speeches and debates with op-eds, media appearances, etc., and hope along the way that the Tweeter-in-Chief doesn’t step on their messages. Two Senate leaders who are well-positioned to lead this effort, due to their leadership responsibilities and staff resources include Senate GOP Conference Chair John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senate Republican Policy Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO).

Possibly adding great fodder to all this, of course, is the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on the abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) process and the FBI’s dubious treatment of sources and source documents, along with US Attorney John Durham’s official investigation into the collusion between the Hillary Clinton campaign and elements of the Obama Administration’s intelligence apparatus.

What timing. Sure, many Democratic Senators, especially those running for President, would use their floor time to make their cases to impeach and remove Donald Trump as President. But with what new information, and especially if the Horowitz (DOJ Inspector General) and Durham reports are public by that point? Democrats likely would be rehashing the same, tired, old canards and attacks they’ve been using since 2016.

Are senators (and the White House) up to it? We’re about to see. 

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There are 27 comments.

  1. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    It is hard to build an impeachment case with just hearsay and partisan policy opinions. I still feel it will not go to the Senate. If it does go to the Senate, we’ll be able to see who cares about themselves and who cares about the country. I’ll be taking notes and giving letter grades.

    • #1
    • November 12, 2019, at 10:50 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    Bucknelldad: Are senators (and the White House) up to it? We’re about to see.

    Indeed.

    • #2
    • November 12, 2019, at 10:59 AM PST
    • 1 like
  3. cdor Member

    I don’t know about Barrasso, but if we have to depend upon my Senator, Roy Blunt. . . well, let’s just say Melania better have a moving company on her Rolodex. I have extremely limited faith in our Senate Republican majority members to fight fiercely for our President. Take Senator Graham, as an example. He is the head of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. Has he held any hearings over FISA abuse by Obama people? Has he held any hearings at all? I hope @dong is correct and impeachment never gets out of the House in the first place.

    • #3
    • November 12, 2019, at 11:21 AM PST
    • 1 like
  4. cdor Member

    I don’t know about Barrasso, but if we have to depend upon my Senator, Roy Blunt. . . well, let’s just say Melania better have a moving company on her Rolodex. I have extremely limited faith in our Senate Republican majority members to fight fiercely for our President. Take Senator Graham, as an example. He is the head of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. Has he held any hearings over FISA abuse by Obama people? Has he held any hearings at all? I hope @dong is correct and impeachment never gets out of the House in the first place.

    • #4
    • November 12, 2019, at 11:21 AM PST
    • 1 like
  5. Manny Member

    If it went to the Senate, I think it would wind up being a complete humiliation for the Democrats. I wold much perfer the country be spared this fiasco, but if the Dems insist then let them get wiped out.

    • #5
    • November 12, 2019, at 11:23 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Manny Member

    DonG (View Comment):

    I still feel it will not go to the Senate.

    That would be a logical move, but quite a few Dem Congressmen have already walked the plank and voted to investigate. My congressman, Max Rose, is a case in point. He won as a moderate Dem and he even voted against Pelosi for speaker. Now he voted with her on something the district is pretty much against. Max Rose is caught between a rock and a hard place. (Sorry for the cliche.) These Congressman are now subject to being attacked, and they are now tied to the Liberal wing of the socialist party. They’ve already walked the plank. Can Pelosi just now say, sorry it was all a mistake? I don’t think so.

    • #6
    • November 12, 2019, at 11:28 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    Isnt the judge the VP?

    Also does the Senate have the ability to call witnesses and ask questions? I would love to have Schiff grilled by McConnell?

    • #7
    • November 12, 2019, at 11:35 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. Arahant Member

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):
    Isnt the judge the VP?

    The Senate is the jury. The trial is presided over by the Chief Justice.

    • #8
    • November 12, 2019, at 11:48 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  9. Stad Thatcher

    Bucknelldad: But with what new information, and especially if the Horowitz (DOJ Inspector General) and Durham reports are public by that point?

    This is why the Dems are rushing forward with impeachment proceedings, not necessarily wanting to vote on it. My guess is the Democrats have gotten word from someone involved in the investigations that serious misbehavior – possibly criminal – on the Democrats’ part before and after the election may rain hellfire on their party during the 2020 elections. Going forward with impeachment has a chance of dominating the headlines for the time leading up to the election.

    Too bad the alternative media is out there . . .

    • #9
    • November 12, 2019, at 12:06 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  10. Skyler Coolidge

    I also think that this analysis assumes without foundation that republican senators would not support impeachment. 

    • #10
    • November 12, 2019, at 12:06 PM PST
    • 1 like
  11. Old Bathos Member

    Trump will not be removed but I am not optimistic about the political fallout. The media will go all in as never before on the silly narrative of bribery and extortion and ‘unprecedented’ reliance on a foreign government for help in domestic politics. 

    This, of course, overlooks the fact that the Obama Administration established the precedent of holding Ukrainian aid hostage to US preferences about what is or is not investigated (and even who gets to investigate). That was done despite Mr. Biden’s corrupt family financial interests. And it overlooks the use of the US embassy there to dig up dirt on persons connected to the Trump campaign. And overlooks the blatant use of foreign assets to try to foist a bogus campaign dirty dirty trick and entrap persons connected to Mr. Trump within the larger context of overt use of federal espionage and law enforcement resources to affect the outcome of the 2016 election and then to try to leverage an ouster of the new President.

    Barring some utterly brilliant encapsulations by Senators to frame this nonsense properly, (Senators are generally not good at brief, pithy formulations) I fear the idea that something bad must have happened and that Trump is damaged goods (see, e.g., every David French article of the last three years) will permeate the national consciousness instead of outrage at the sheer perfidy and titanic hypocrisy behind these allegations.

    • #11
    • November 12, 2019, at 12:19 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Stad Thatcher

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Trump will not be removed but I am not optimistic about the political fallout. The media will go all in as never before on the silly narrative of bribery and extortion and ‘unprecedented’ reliance on a foreign government for help in domestic politics.

    This is a possibility, but I believe the average citizen at some point will tire of all the negative reporting. The question then becomes: Will our citizens stop the negative reporting by saying “get rid of Trump”, or re-elect Trump as a middle finger to the MSM for making our lives miserable?

    I lean towards the latter, but stay tuned . . .

    • #12
    • November 12, 2019, at 12:26 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Spin Coolidge

    To summarize, item 6 is the fact that one Senator might object to the trial, leading to at least 30, and perhaps as many as 60 hours of debate on the Senate floor, before the trial even begins, yeah? Isn’t this basically the same as Marcus’ #1? That the Republicans get to gain control of the process, and the narrative? Sort of a bullet 1a and 1b, yeah? How is it different?

    • #13
    • November 12, 2019, at 12:26 PM PST
    • Like
  14. Bucknelldad Coolidge
    Bucknelldad Post author

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    Isnt the judge the VP?

    Also does the Senate have the ability to call witnesses and ask questions? I would love to have Schiff grilled by McConnell?

    Yes, is does, as provided for in the rules and procedures for impeachment adopted by the Senate in 1986, a copy of which is linked in the article. 

     

    • #14
    • November 12, 2019, at 12:59 PM PST
    • 1 like
  15. Bucknelldad Coolidge
    Bucknelldad Post author

    Skyler (View Comment):

    I also think that this analysis assumes without foundation that republican senators would not support impeachment.

    I have seen no evidence that there are more than 2-3 (Murkowski, Romney and possibly Collins) who appear genuinely willing to support impeachment. New evidence could change that, of course. I also find it very hard to believe that Susan Collins would support impeachment at this point, given that she voted against Bill Clinton’s impeachment when he clearly lied under oath, a clear criminal violation over which he eventually lost his law license (for awhile). 

    • #15
    • November 12, 2019, at 1:02 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  16. Bucknelldad Coolidge
    Bucknelldad Post author

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    Isnt the judge the VP?

    Also does the Senate have the ability to call witnesses and ask questions? I would love to have Schiff grilled by McConnell?

    The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides during an actual impeachment trial. The VP has no role in the process, other than he might assume the chair during any debate over proceeding to trial. 

     

    • #16
    • November 12, 2019, at 1:03 PM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Stad Thatcher

    Bucknelldad (View Comment):
    I have seen no evidence that there are more than 2-3 (Murkowski, Romney and possibly Collins) who appear genuinely willing to support impeachment.

    Romney . . . he looks like he’s willing to become the new John McCain – a Senator liked mostly by his home state, but loathed mostly elsewhere.

    I was more enthusiastic about Romney than McCain, and when he picked Paul Ryan as Veep? I was ecstatic – no way they could lose! Nonetheless, they did . . .

    Trump is the answer. Love him or hate him, he’s still 1,000,000 times better than any Democrat.

    • #17
    • November 12, 2019, at 1:16 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  18. Richard Fulmer Member

    Stad (View Comment):
    Trump is the answer. Love him or hate him, he’s still 1,000,000 times better than any Democrat.

    But he’s not better than Pence. And, right now, our choice is between Trump and Pence.

    • #18
    • November 12, 2019, at 2:51 PM PST
    • Like
  19. Manny Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    Trump is the answer. Love him or hate him, he’s still 1,000,000 times better than any Democrat.

    But he’s not better than Pence. And, right now, our choice is between Trump and Pence.

    The party of an impeached president would implode on the next election. Not only would Pence not win but so would a good portion of the marginal candidates.

    • #19
    • November 12, 2019, at 5:13 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. Duane Oyen Member

    cdor (View Comment):

    I don’t know about Barrasso, but if we have to depend upon my Senator, Roy Blunt. . . well, let’s just say Melania better have a moving company on her Rolodex. I have extremely limited faith in our Senate Republican majority members to fight fiercely for our President. Take Senator Graham, as an example. He is the head of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. Has he held any hearings over FISA abuse by Obama people? Has he held any hearings at all? I hope @dong is correct and impeachment never gets out of the House in the first place.

    Shouldn’t Graham be waiting for the Horowitz report to come out as the driver of any hearings, since that will be a key source of information?

    • #20
    • November 12, 2019, at 6:07 PM PST
    • 1 like
  21. Stad Thatcher

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):
    But he’s not better than Pence.

    No way. Pence would never be able to do what Trump has done. I hope he’s been taking notes the last three years . . .

    • #21
    • November 13, 2019, at 7:16 AM PST
    • 1 like
  22. Roderic Coolidge

    Manny (View Comment):

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    Trump is the answer. Love him or hate him, he’s still 1,000,000 times better than any Democrat.

    But he’s not better than Pence. And, right now, our choice is between Trump and Pence.

    The party of an impeached president would implode on the next election. Not only would Pence not win but so would a good portion of the marginal candidates.

    I think you mean “impeached and removed”.

    If so then I think that’s right. The Republicans would split apart, and then they could watch on the sidelines while the Democrats destroy the country.

    • #22
    • November 14, 2019, at 9:51 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. Manny Member

    Roderic (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    Trump is the answer. Love him or hate him, he’s still 1,000,000 times better than any Democrat.

    But he’s not better than Pence. And, right now, our choice is between Trump and Pence.

    The party of an impeached president would implode on the next election. Not only would Pence not win but so would a good portion of the marginal candidates.

    I think you mean “impeached and removed”.

    If so then I think that’s right. The Republicans would split apart, and then they could watch on the sidelines while the Democrats destroy the country.

    Yes, that’s right. Impeached and removed.

    • #23
    • November 14, 2019, at 10:09 AM PST
    • 1 like
  24. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Barring some utterly brilliant encapsulations by Senators to frame this nonsense properly, (Senators are generally not good at brief, pithy formulations) I fear the idea that something bad must have happened and that Trump is damaged goods (see, e.g., every David French article of the last three years) will permeate the national consciousness instead of outrage at the sheer perfidy and titanic hypocrisy behind these allegations.

    Sadly you may be right. This shameful spectacle is all about 2020 for the Dems. 

    • #24
    • November 14, 2019, at 3:26 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. MISTER BITCOIN Coolidge

    Can Mitch say we will delay trial until

    after election?

     

    • #25
    • November 14, 2019, at 4:26 PM PST
    • 1 like
  26. Arahant Member

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):

    Can Mitch say we will delay trial until after election?

    He could, but why would he? He can trap a bunch of Democratic Presidential candidates while proving what a sham this has been.

    • #26
    • November 14, 2019, at 4:29 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):
    He could, but why would he? He can trap a bunch of Democratic Presidential candidates while proving what a sham this has been.

    The problem is he would be trapping a bunch of Republican senators at the same time. 

    • #27
    • November 15, 2019, at 1:36 PM PST
    • Like