A leftover from yesterday that’s gotten a surprising amount of attention online. I’m sure he’s right that 45 Republicans or thereabouts would support a motion to dismiss, or do whatever else Trump wants them to do.
But has that ever been in doubt? The trick isn’t convincing a large Republican minority in the Senate to support dismissal. The trick is convincing the eight or so centrists holdouts that it’s in their political interest to support dismissal too. How do you do that?
In particular, how you do that when they’re all planning on voting for acquittal anyway and there’s little to be gained time-wise by supporting a motion to dismiss instead of a plain ol’ verdict on the merits? If Collins and the other centrists want a quick trial, they don’t need to support dismissal of the articles of impeachment. All they need to do is decline to call witnesses. The whole thing will be over in two weeks. Like I said a few days ago, the way the trial is organized there’s really never a good time to try to get the charges dismissed except right up front, before opening arguments. The GOP declined to do that and so now they’re stuck hearing the arguments of both sides and then, almost certainly, enduring a 16-hour period for senators’ questions. Then Rand might realistically offer a motion to dismiss, at the moment that the Senate is considering whether to call witnesses.
But again, why would the centrists opt for dismissal at that point when they could just decline to call anyone and know that the trial will be over in a few days anyway? All that would be left is closing arguments. Just push on to the verdict and acquit Trump on the merits. If instead you opt for dismissal, you hand the Democrats an easy talking point that Collins and the RINOs were so eager to participate in a cover up that they couldn’t bear to actually deliberate over the evidence. Sham!
There *is* news here, though. A few days ago Paul seemed disinclined to even offer a motion to dismiss, knowing that the votes weren’t there. Now, however, it sounds like he’s resolved to offer one. Eventually.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a leading ally of President Trump, said Wednesday that 45 Republicans are ready to dismiss the charges against the president and he would keep pushing to rally a majority of GOP senators to end the impeachment trial.
“There are 45, with about five to eight wanting to hear a little more,” Paul said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I still would like to dismiss it, but there aren’t the votes to do it just yet.”…
“I will push it at some point,” Paul said. “The more Adam Schiff speaks, the more we become unified.”
It’s easy to guess at least five who are reluctant: Collins, Murkowski, Romney, Lamar Alexander, and probably Cory Gardner. Gardner might eventually support a motion to dismiss to ingratiate himself to Trump fans since he’s worried about his base in Colorado but I don’t know that any of the four ever would. Especially since calling witnesses and dismissing the articles is effectively an either/or choice. You’re not going to call John Bolton and Hunter Biden, hear their testimony, and then vote for dismissal. You’d just proceed to a verdict at that point. If there are four Republican votes to hear witnesses then the motion to dismiss is doomed.
And if there aren’t four Republican votes to hear witnesses then the centrists will oppose dismissing the charges anyway, fearing that they’d only antagonize swing voters more by doing that. If they’re not going to hear from Bolton and Biden then they at least want the rest of the process to seem diligent, which means closing arguments and deliberations and verdict. Not tossing the articles of impeachment in the trash.
All of which means that McConnell’s not going to be keen on letting Paul force this vote. It’s one thing to compel the RINOs to take a risky vote when there’s something to be gained from it. But when it amounts to nothing much more than MAGA virtue-signaling, giving the populists in the caucus a chance to show their eagerness to own the libs by dismissing the articles of impeachment outright, that’s a dumb risky vote. The sort that might lead to fewer Republicans in the Senate next year from battleground states.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s an amusing bit of impeachment-themed trolling from Bill Kristol’s anti-Trump PAC. They built a tongue-in-cheek website around the “President Pence?” concept too.
Hey, Mr. @VP: You and your staff say it quietly, worried that @realDonaldTrump will hear. We proclaim it loudly:
"It's time for President Pence."
A new video from your friends at Defending Democracy Together (@democracydefend).
More info at https://t.co/oAJfCNnBmN. pic.twitter.com/MjKcThOB0i
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 23, 2020