A presidency unlike any other, officially.
House officially has the votes to impeach Trump for the second time. 10 Republicans vote yes:
John Katko (NY)
Liz Cheney (WY)
Adam Kinzinger (IL)
Fred Upton (MI)
Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA)
Dan Newhouse (WA)
Peter Meijer (MI)
Tom Rice (SC)
Anthony Gonzalez (OH)
David Valadao (CA) pic.twitter.com/shL72IO5sT
— The Recount (@therecount) January 13, 2021
Trump becomes the first person in American history to be impeached twice. Yesterday I set the over/under on House Republicans voting yes at 10 and took the under. My bad: There were 10 exactly. For a few hours last night it seemed like there might be many more after Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, said she’d vote to impeach. That raised the possibility of a dam break among Republicans; after all, having someone in leadership out in front to take the brunt of the criticism meant rank-and-file Republicans could vote yes and hide behind her to some degree.
In the end, they barely made it to double digits. Offered the choice to squarely punish the president for egging on a terror attack on Congress or to share in his disgrace, all but 10 chose disgrace. Good luck to them on their long, pointless careers.
Of the 10, this guy deserves special recognition. Meet Peter Meijer, Iraq war vet, who just turned 33 years old. He’s a freshman — a member of Congress for 10 days. He’s also the man who replaced Justin Amash in Michigan’s Third District after Amash rendered himself unviable in the party by criticizing Trump. Think of that. MAGA chased Amash out, and then the Republican who replaced him voted to impeach today anyway. This guy has more balls and more of a moral compass than all but nine of his Republican colleagues.
President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection we suffered last week. With a heavy heart, I will vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump. pic.twitter.com/SREfFp0nd2
— Rep. Peter Meijer (@RepMeijer) January 13, 2021
Biggest vote he’ll ever take and he got it right on his 10th day as a member. His political career will be short, I assume, but it’ll be proud. How many members of Congress can say that?
I have more thoughts but will save those for updates in order to get this posted more quickly. Stand by.
Update: Today’s biggest disappointment is undoubtedly Nancy Mace, who looked to be the second freshman to vote for impeachment. Mace has been all over media this week saying the right things about how terrible the attack was and how Republicans need a reset, and even took it to QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene in a private chat. Given the opportunity today to back up her words with action, she choked, offering a BS process argument about how impeachment was “rushed” to justify voting no. (It was “rushed” because Trump’s leaving in a week and there’s zero doubt about what happened and his role in it. If you’ve been around a television or on Twitter over the past 69 days, you understand why he’s being impeached for incitement.) This tweet from a lefty critic is brutal because it’s true:
Nancy Mace joined Congress 10 days ago and she’s already a powerful symbol for the farce that the GOP’s “concerned” faction has been for the past 4 years: grab headlines for feeling some wise & thoughtful concern, then walk away the moment there’s talk of concrete accountability. https://t.co/cA5BzHiarl
— Taniel (@Taniel) January 13, 2021
She’s the new Susan Collins. What a shame.
Update: Maybe the reason Mace buckled is because she saw that not even Liz Cheney is immune from consequences for doing the right thing:
Members of the Freedom Caucus began circulating a petition Wednesday to force a special conference meeting so they could debate and vote on a resolution calling on Cheney to resign from her post [as House Republican Conference chair]. Just 20 percent, or 42 members, of the House GOP is required to sign the petition in order to force the meeting. But a majority of the conference would need to agree to the resolution in order for it to be adopted. That vote would be conducted via secret ballot…
The resolution obtained by POLITICO states that Cheney’s position “does not reflect that of the majority of the Republican Conference and has brought the Conference into disrepute and produced discord.”…
“I’m not going anywhere. This is a vote of conscience,” she told POLITICO in the Capitol. “It’s one where there are different views in our conference. But our nation is facing an unprecedented, since the civil war, constitutional crisis…
Cheney has told colleagues she wants to be on the right side of history and has framed it as a “vote of conscience” in private conversations, according to sources.
She’s risking her political career and her life to assert Congress’s power against a president who whipped up a mob that would have murdered their colleagues, and Jim Jordan’s brain is drinking that in and telling him that she’s brought the conference into “disrepute.” How many members of Congress would have needed to be lynched last week for the Freedom Caucus to *not* want to punish someone for voting to condemn it?
I doubt there’s any death toll, however high, that would have convinced members of the Freedom Caucus to support impeachment themselves.
John Katko, who voted for impeachment today, is trying to rally support for her:
>> @RepJohnKatko is now circulating a letter for ppl to voice their support of Cheney.
"We strongly support our Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney and reject calls for her to step down. Chairwoman Cheney has made it clear that this was a vote of conscience," it reads. pic.twitter.com/1hmr9MjA1j
— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) January 13, 2021
Update: AOC is tired of hearing House Republicans whimper about how frightened they are before a hard vote:
Many of them rode the wave of this violent rhetoric, or at the very least sat idly by it. Now is our chance to stop it.
This is what we are sent to Congress to do – the tough stuff. All the easy choices are taken. If any GOP need advice on how to deal with it, they can call me.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 13, 2021
Update: We now have a trial to hold. That trial will not be held soon, McConnell confirmed this afternoon:
NEW: Senate Majority Leader McConnell statement:
"Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week." pic.twitter.com/9okWYBLK7f
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 13, 2021
Matt Continetti argues that that’s a mistake. Are we in a crisis or are we not?
Obstacles to a speedy trial are either procedural or unpersuasive. Is the Senate truly unable to perform its constitutional function before Joe Biden’s inauguration? The senators are around. It’s not like they have anything better to do. Plenty of them live within driving distance to the Capitol. Others are planning confirmation hearings next week for Biden’s nominees.
Would the Senate take this nonchalant attitude toward another Pearl Harbor or 9/11? Such a parallel is not drawn lightly. The January 6 attack on Capitol Hill also lives in infamy. Donald Trump’s behavior since the election guarantees that he will be remembered as a villain of American history. This menace to American democracy is no less urgent because it comes from within. On the contrary: Internal threats to the rule of law deserve rapid and unequivocal suppression.
The only reason McConnell should want to delay the trial is if he thinks he doesn’t have 67 votes to convict yet but *might* be able to get them with a little more time to lobby. Is that realistic, though? Ramesh Ponnuru is counting and thinks that 10 votes to convict are plausible. But where do the other seven come from?
Easiest votes to get are Romney, Toomey, Murkowski, Sasse, Collins. I think leadership would have to supply the next tranche: McConnell, Thune, Barrosso, Blunt. Cornyn is quasi-leadership and respected by other Rs. 2/
— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) January 13, 2021
Next group, remembering we are talking about what would have to happen to get to 17 and not what is likely: Some combination of Cotton, Sullivan, Burr, Tillis, Lee, Inhofe. 4/
— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) January 13, 2021
PS If this moved forward with leadership support, Scott would probably have to be removed from NRSC. /fin
— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) January 13, 2021
Maybe McConnell’s delaying in order to slow down the process of confirming Biden’s nominees. Can’t have hearings if you’re busy with an impeachment trial, right? But that’s irresponsible. Not only is he hesitating in a crisis, he’s actually extending the crisis by ensuring that federal agencies won’t have confirmed secretaries leading them on day one.
Update: I don’t understand the argument that Congress can’t impeach and convict a president who leaves office before the trial is over. I could accept that the House shouldn’t be allowed to *initiate* impeachment proceedings against someone who’s no longer in office, but it’s perverse to give the president the power to moot impeachment proceedings by simply resigning or waiting until the very end of his term to abuse his power. He’d be free to act as badly as he wants with total impunity so long as he didn’t go so far as to commit a crime. If he’s still in office and the House impeaches, the Senate should have to decide whether he’s guilty and whether he should be barred from holding future office. If they want to vote to acquit on grounds that the prosecution is moot, that’s their prerogative.
Update: One of the many ways in which this trial will be interesting is that, ah, there won’t be much of a defense:
The White House has no plans to defend the president, I’m told.
WH aides know few GOP members have any real worries about any retaliation from Trump, and realize he has been essentially castrated without his Twitter account. https://t.co/DEBrTV3Ftd
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) January 13, 2021
“We’re not building out an aggressive operation to combat these impeachment charges,” a White House official told Politico. “It’s just logistically impossible. Counsel’s office has hollowed out obviously, Cipollone hasn’t been in the president’s circle. … Operationally, it’s just not going to look the same.” Rudy Giuliani’s name has been touted as potential counsel for Trump at an impeachment trial — the worst possible choice (apart from Sidney Powell or Lin Wood) since no one’s been a bigger enabler of Trump’s “stop the steal” incitement campaign than Giuliani. I think Trump will be acquitted *unless* he sends Rudy in there, in which case all bets are off.
Update: This is quite possible. There’s no scenario realistically in which Trump having access to his Twitter account over the last few days would have led to fewer Republicans voting for impeachment rather than more:
I think taking his Twitter away may have saved him from conviction and removal. He would have been saying the most psychotic stuff during the late night count in the Senate. https://t.co/lCcTyzdXAX
— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) January 13, 2021
Update: I’ll leave you with this tweet from the most ardent hawk in the U.S. Congress, a guy who would sneer at any weak-kneed Democrat whose resolve to fight terrorism wavered in the face of threats from an enemy. Here he is suddenly sounding like Ron Paul, mewling about “inviting violence” by pushing back too hard. What a disgrace.
Supporting the impeachment of President Trump under these circumstances will do great damage to the institutions of government and could invite further violence at a time the President is calling for calm.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 13, 2021