He promised last week he would do this and now here he is today on the Senate floor following through. The proposed timeline, I believe, is a new detail: It was unclear until this afternoon whether his rule change would involve a deadline for transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate or if he’d empower the chamber to dismiss impeachment articles at will, even on day one if the Senate felt the evidence was too thin to warrant proceeding.

That latter would have been a tough sell in a chamber that at least wants to make a pretense that it’s taking impeachment seriously. So he settled for the former, suggesting a 25-day window for the House to send over the articles. If they fail to meet the deadline, the Senate would be able to pass a motion to dismiss the charges on grounds that the prosecution didn’t bring its case in a timely manner. That would mean January 13 in Trump’s case, one week from today.

He has a dozen or so co-sponsors for the idea, the most notable of whom are Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, John Barrasso, and Jim Inhofe. Cruz and Cotton are onboard because, like Hawley, they’re planning to run for president in 2024 and need to impress Trump’s base by showing how much they hate impeachment. Barrasso and Inhofe are noteworthy because they’re members of the GOP Senate leadership, which kinda sorta suggests Hawley’s resolution has support from the top.

But does it? Is McConnell actually going to put this proposal on the floor and force swing-state Republicans to take a tough, unnecessary vote on it? In all likelihood Pelosi will send over the articles of impeachment before January 13 anyway, especially now that John Bolton has said he’s willing to testify before the Senate. The longer she holds the articles back, the easier it is for Republicans to argue that the House should call Bolton instead seeing as how they seem to be in no rush to wrap up impeachment. Pelosi now has an incentive to hand off the hot potato to McConnell, steering public pressure to call witnesses onto the Senate with Bolton as the focal point.

I’ll repeat what I said last week, though: If I were Pelosi, I’d be rooting for Hawley’s rule change to pass. Democrats aren’t afraid of Trump being acquitted; they’ve known for months that that’s how the Ukraine saga would end. The worst-case scenario for Dems at this point is that Trump is acquitted on the merits (or what appears to be on the merits), after something that approximates a fair trial. The more diligent Senate Republicans are about hearing the evidence before voting not guilty, the stronger their case is to voters that they really did look hard at what the Democrats had on Trump before concluding that it was too thin. If instead the GOP went the Hawley route, Pelosi would have an opening to say that Trump was cleared unfairly, based not on the evidence but on a pretext concocted by Republicans at the last moment to let Trump off the hook before they considered the testimony against him. “All we were doing by delaying the articles of impeachment was trying to convince Republicans to listen to people like John Bolton,” she would say. “Instead they rushed through a sham rule change to short-circuit the trial altogether.”

That’s a comparatively good outcome for House Dems. They could run against swing-state Republicans by accusing them of participating in a sham and a “cover up.” Whether it would convince anyone to vote out Susan Collins or Cory Gardner is a separate question, but certainly it’d be a stronger argument than having Trump acquitted after a full trial would.

I don’t think McConnell will even allow a vote on the Hawley bill. It won’t pass, after all, so why force moderate Republicans to absorb some political pain by voting for it? This is a Hawley 2024 campaign commercial more so than it is a serious move to pressure Pelosi. Lindsey Graham recently proposed a similar idea, in fact, changing the Senate rules to let them start the trial before the House has sent over the articles, and Cocaine Mitch didn’t sound keen on that either:

But McConnell and his staff have repeatedly shot down talk of starting the trial before the articles are sent to the Senate.

“We can’t hold a trial without the articles. The Senate’s own rules don’t provide for that. So, for now, we are content to continue the ordinary business of the Senate,” McConnell said on Friday.

Asked last week how realistic the idea was that the Senate could start a trial without the articles, a spokesman for McConnell replied: “Zero percent.”

McConnell wants a simulacrum of a fair trial so that his Republican moderates can go home and say that they did their jobs responsibly. Eleventh-hour rule changes and related shenanigans make that harder, not easier. Especially since Pelosi’s delay isn’t causing the Senate any hardships (unless you think Bolton wouldn’t have announced his willingness to testify otherwise). Let her wait forever if she wants. It’s Democrats, not the GOP, who look unserious and ambivalent from her dragging her feet.