If I could have only one last wish for the final week of President Trump’s first term in office, it would be this: I wish for 10 wishes.
And then my first wish would be: “Speaker Pelosi, I know we have not always seen eye to eye, but please overlook our past disagreements and just grant me this: Please go forward — and at lightning speed — with impeaching President Trump.” Here is my thinking:
- Any impeachment that goes from introducing the Bills of Impeachment to passing the full House in less than one week — which is all the time she has before the president leaves D.C. — will be remembered through history as a biased Stalin-like show trial. It will demonstrate how blindly unjust the House of Representatives — gone wild — was in its time.
- Such an impeachment will drive the final nail in the coffin proving that last year’s impeachment likewise was stuff and nonsense, unjust and unethical, driven by blind political ambition and cynicism, unattached to justice.
- Such an impeachment will continue and give revitalized life to a revivifying process that began with the Tea Party, smoking out the few remaining RINOs whom faithful Republicans still have not replaced.
Once the impeachment passes, it moves to the Senate for trial.
- Since Trump Impeachment now is an annual American social event like Georgia’s Vidalia Onion Festival and reminiscent of the former annual Great Steamboat Race on the Ohio River between Cincinnati’s Delta Queen and the Belle of Louisville, we now all know that impeachment conviction requires a two-thirds Senate vote. The Democrats have 50, and the Republicans have 50. For now, let us assume that Joe Manchin of West Virginia sticks with party and votes to convict. (We will return to Joe in Item 14, infra.) Therefore, assuming the Democrats enter with 50 votes to convict, they need to secure 17 more Republican Senate votes.
- Ben Sasse possibly will vote to convict. Thing is, I really like Ben Sasse. He is my Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Jimmy Stewart guy, oppositional but driven by conscience. He is a rock-solid conservative, and he wears his soul. When we needed him for Brett Kavanaugh or anything else conservative, he has been there. Since his vote to convict really will have no impact on anything, let him stand by his convictions and vote to convict. It is meaningful to have a person of conscience in the Senate, even if misguided. So now they need 16 more to convict.
- Mitt Romney will vote to convict. He is not motivated by purity but by vengeance and vindictiveness. He was given life on a silver platter, honored those gifts, has made a good life, and was actually a good man for whom I was proud to cast my 2012 vote against Obama. Alas, he blew an election that was his for the taking. The first Obama years managed to turn almost every legislative body in America from blue to red. Yet with his Etch A Sketch, Romney somehow lost, defeated by CNN’s Candy Crowley. It drives him crazy that Donald Trump, whom Romney rightly sees as so much more coarse and uncouth than he, not only won the same office that Romney lost but also is more deeply loved. So Romney has warred against Trump from before the 2016 presidential primaries. The shame is that Romney holds a seat previously held by one of the finest people ever to sit in the Senate, Orrin Hatch. The people of Utah know how to send great men like Hatch and Mike Lee to Washington. They thought Romney was another, the only Mormon ever nominated by a major party for the presidency. If — when— Romney votes, for the second time in two years, to convict President Trump, there finally will emerge a consistent campaign theme on which a Utah Republican challenger can send him back home to Massachusetts or Michigan. So now they need 15 more to convict.
- Susan Collins possibly will vote to convict. She sincerely has my blessings. She is a gem. She is one of only two who holds a Republican Senate seat in the American Northeast. Think about it: two Democrats each from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Only two Republicans out of 22 in all the Northeast (even pushing that region as far west as Maryland). Only Susan Collins and Pat Toomey hold Senate seats, each alongside a same-state Democrat. (More on Toomey in a moment.) It is unfair for any Republican conservative to expect Susan Collins of Maine to vote as though she were representing Alabama. When we need her, she is there. She memorably stood courageously for Brett Kavanaugh against the perjurers when her vote made all the difference. As a consequence, she encountered a terribly bruising reelection effort, but she now has won six more years. If it helps Sen. Collins maintain her delicate coalition of Republican conservatives, Independents, and Maine Democrat moderates who value decency and honor, let Ms. Collins vote to convict. No matter — they still need 14 more.
- Pat Toomey will vote to convict. As noted, Toomey is one of only two Republicans holding seats among 24 U.S. senators in the Northeast. Thus, he first has to reckon with the same equation that Sen. Collins does. Moreover, he has announced he will not seek reelection. Why? One possibility is that he believes that Pennsylvania has turned hopelessly blue. But that would make no sense because President Trump turned Pennsylvania from blue to purple. Trump won Pennsylvania outright in 2016, and Trump at the very least had a nail-biter in Pennsylvania 2020. (The veracity of the final tally is outside this article’s scope.) So even as Georgia may have moved a bit more purplish from red, Pennsylvania has become a real Republican possibility and keeps inching more red. So why is Toomey stepping down? One possibility always is that he has been diagnosed with a disease that is no one’s business. Another is that he is sick of the commute. Many of us underestimate the wear-and-tear demanded by a job that requires you to fly to D.C. every Sunday evening and then to fly back to your home state quite often to attend banquets and conferences where you press the flesh, kiss babies, and stay in close constant contact with the constituency who are sensitive when their senator or congressional representative never comes back home to visit except at election time. When first elected, the rush of power and influence is intoxicating. But after enough years, the commute becomes a drag, especially if you have been in the majority and now are consigned to the minority. In time, you find that, even as a powerful senator, you really accomplish very little because (i) on 99 percent of the votes, you are coerced to vote as the party leader and party whip tell you, or you get removed from a relevant committee and get dumped onto one that you and your voters do not value; and (ii) on the 1 percent of things where you really feel you can make a difference by drafting, sponsoring, and passing a bill on an issue your voters cherish, you initially feel proud and eventually realize that you actually made no difference because, if someone else were in your shoes representing that constituency, he or she would have drafted, sponsored, and passed the same bill. As you begin to realize you add no value, you ask yourself why you are traveling back and forth — for what? Meanwhile, your kids are growing up, your spouse complains you are not around, and your parents are getting elderly, perhaps losing their independence, perhaps being diagnosed with an illness. So you want to be home more. But, as an accomplished and successful politician, you also want to remain involved. So you leave the U.S. Senate after serving two respectable terms, and you start planning with advisers to run at the next opportunity for governor of the state. And as governor, you are the boss — no more small spoke. I can see Toomey figuring he needs to leave his gubernatorial options open for now by voting to convict the president. It’s a “Susan Collins Thing.” His vote to convict will not matter, but it can persuade Independents and Democrat moderates that he is worthy. Many Pennsylvania Republicans may not forgive him, but most will get over it because they will grasp that his vote to convict did not matter anyway. So now they need 13 more to convict.
- Lisa Murkowski probably will vote to convict. Good. To some degree, the analysis is like the Romney analysis in Item 6, supra. Alaska is Republican deep red, and Murkowski is out of step with her constituency. The thing is, like “Romney” among Utah Mormons, she carries a surname that is prominent in Alaska. Her Dad, Frank Murkowski, represented Alaska in the United States Senate for 22 years, from 1980 to 2002. Then he left the Senate to run for governor of Alaska. (See Item 8 regarding Pat Toomey to understand why.) He won and served from 2002 to 2006. As governor, in an act of bald nepotism, he appointed daughter Lisa to fill the U.S. Senate seat he vacated. (See how it works in the Swamp?) He found that, now based in Alaska, the public did not like him as much once they got to see more of him. Absence made the heart grow fonder, familiarity bred contempt, and it was not a case of Nome Sweet Nome. By reelection time in 2006, his statewide popularity had sunk to 19 percent, and he came in third of three candidates in the GOP gubernatorial primary. He lost by the widest margin of defeat sustained by any incumbent Republican governor ever to lose a primary in American history. (He was beaten by a lady who later would tell a Republican National Convention: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.”) In 2010, Alaska Republicans rejected Lisa, nominating her opponent instead. Unable to seek reelection as a Democrat either, she ran a gutsy statewide write-in campaign, split the Republicans, pulled some Democrats who remembered her father’s surname, and barely eked a win after a six-week court battle. Lisa perceives that she can win reelection in 2022 more securely by running as a Republican but, for insurance, remaining acceptable to Democrats if she needs them again. If she votes to convict, her vote will not matter on impeachment but perhaps will bring home to dark-red-state Republican Alaska voters, as Romney’s may to dark-red-state Utah voters (see item 6, supra), that a RINO surname is an unaffordable luxury at this time. Meanwhile, now they need 12 more to convict.
- Do not look to Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana for those 12. Now a closer look at states A–I. Would Tom Cotton — another extraordinarily wonderful Tea Party–era find — feel his conscience drives him to “Guilty”? I do not believe so. Tom Cotton, like Ben Sasse, is a Tea Party Era Republican senator with a deep conscience and pure soul. But while Sasse likes being oppositional and standing alone like “Mr. Smith,” Sen. Cotton is more mature and sophisticated. He understands the deeper nuances of what lies beneath this annual Pelosi impeachment, and he recognizes the long-term role he is destined to play in Republican party and national leadership. Likewise, Marco Rubio may call for censure because the 2016 GOP primaries got nasty (small hands?), but he knows right from wrong. I cannot see him voting to convict. Rick Scott owes his seat to President Trump, and he knows what Pelosi Democrats are. The two from Idaho? No way. The two from Indiana? Likewise. Joni Ernst? Never. Chuck Grassley — probably not, but “let’s say.” So, just for fun, let’s say that among those discussed within this paragraph covering states A–I, even four votes to convict, though I don’t see it. They still would need eight more to convict.
- Next: states J–O. Kansas will not bleed. Rand Paul and his wife almost got killed by rioters in D.C. at the White House, and no Democrats cared, so he will not lend a hand to the farce. Mitch? Who knows? He just got elected for six more years, and his wife Elaine Chao just left the Trump cabinet in a huff with less than two weeks to go in her job anyway. So “let’s just say.” Josh Hawley? Never. Roy Blunt? Missouri will send him to Claire McCaskill Acres if he votes to convict. Steve Daines in Montana and Deb Fischer in Nebraska. I don’t see how. With North Carolina a bit purple, would both Thom Tillis and Richard Burr vote to convict? Or Rob Portman in Ohio? Does not seem conceivably so — but “let’s say.” Meanwhile, North Dakota and Oklahoma are solid behind Trump like rocks. So even if — just for fun — we absurdly assume five votes to convict in states J–O, they still need three to convict.
- Next: P–Z. South Carolina definitely holds. Ever since John McCain passed away — and I deeply mourn the death of anyone who dies of any illness, particularly glioblastoma — Lindsey Graham has been great. I stand by conservative bulwarks of deep personal integrity and honor like Sen. Graham, Attorney General William Barr, and Vice President Mike Pence. We have been blessed they all have served at this time. Tim Scott likewise is a man of integrity and honor. He is solid. As for John Thune of South Dakota, who knows? Let’s say he breaks. Mike Rounds holds. The two in Tennessee, Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn, hold. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz hold in Texas. Mike Lee holds in Utah. West Virginia’s Shelley Capito holds. Ron Johnson holds in Wisconsin, and the two in Wyoming hold. (Liz Cheney in the House is outlier for Wyoming because Trump often insulted the Bushes, and her dad was vice president to Bush II. As with Mick Mulvaney, whom Trump once insulted publicly for coughing, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom Trump insulted for losing the high ratings Trump had developed for The Apprentice, this is Payback Fortnight for People Insulted by Trump.) Just for fun, let’s say there is a vote to convict in states P–Z.
- It emerges that, assuming the very, very worst conviction scenario for President Trump, they still fall two votes short of conviction — and in reality they will fall 10 or more votes short. A failure to convict means that history records Donald Trump “Not Guilty” once again. The impeachment becomes a nullity. (When was the last time you heard anyone talk about Volodymyr Zelensky? Indeed, the only time the word “Ukraine” comes up anymore is when people discuss Joe Biden’s corrupt political career and family, most recently the Hunter Biden narratives.)
- Let us return to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He treads a tight line — deeply immersed lifelong in state Democrat politics before the deep-blue state turned deep red. So he plays “Democrat conservative.” For example, he “broke with his party” and cast a meaningless extra vote for Kavanaugh — but only after Susan Collins ensured SCOTUS confirmation anyway. Impeachment will test Manchin again. If Manchin votes to convict Trump, West Virginians will remember when Joe seeks reelection in 2024. Guess who else may be on the 2024 West Virginia election ballot, campaigning heartily for reelection? Uh-huh.
So I support impeachment. It will smoke out Senate RINOs, separating them from the courageous. It will bolster Susan Collins in Maine and may help Pat Toomey oust a Democrat governor in Pennsylvania. It may gain a Republican Senate seat in West Virginia, and it may lead to displacing Lisa Murkowski of deep-red Alaska and Mitt Romney of deep-red Utah. It will force Mitch McConnell to show his cards, let us know going forward where Rob Portman, Chuck Grassley, the two in North Carolina, and John Thune stand on the conservative-to-RINO continuum so that we do not nominate another McCain–Romney–Jeb! in the foreseeable future.
And — and one last thing:
A guy says, “Hey, Bill. I heard your mother-in-law just drove your new Lamborghini over a cliff!” Bill responds, “It wasn’t my mother-in-law; it was my aunt. It wasn’t a Lamborghini; it was a Corvette. It wasn’t over a cliff; it was down a ravine. And it never happened.”
The United States Constitution says:
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. [¶] Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law. (Art. I, § 3) (emphasis added).
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. (Art. II, § 4) (emphasis added).
After Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration, Donald Trump simply will not meet the definition of “the President of the United States” to be tried. He no longer would be subject to “removal from [o]ffice.” Thus, although the House would have impeached the President in a foolishly rushed Kangaroo Court reminiscent of Josef Stalin’s Show Trials where political opponents were accused, tried, convicted, and then lost on appeal all within a week, the Senate would not be trying the President of the United States but a private citizen, and there would be no office from which to remove him. Under the Constitution, the Senate almost surely would have no legal authority under which to pursue a trial on the House’s impeachment because it would be mooted by reality. Let’s say. Just for fun.