This is one hell of a time to get cold feet on impeachment, but here we are. Apparently, House Democrats just realized that their control of the process and narrative of impeachment will end just as soon as they send it over to the Republican-controlled Senate. The second-ranking House Democrat told reporters that they might have to delay it in order to give Chuck Schumer enough leverage to negotiate with Mitch McConnell:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking lawmaker in the House, said Wednesday that Democrats must discuss a last-ditch gambit to delay sending articles of impeachment to the Senate and prevent the Republican controlled chamber from summarily discarding the case against President Donald Trump.
“Some think it’s a good idea. And we need to talk about it,” Hoyer said just as the House began debating articles of impeachment that charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
In case you missed Allahpundit’s post on this idea yesterday, catch up with it now. The theory is that a delay plays into Schumer’s hands in forcing McConnell to commit to a lengthy trial process in which Republicans will have to fight in court to overcome executive privilege claims. Exactly what part of this constitutes leverage is a mystery, because (a) this was the House’ responsibility if this testimony was needed to support its impeachment articles, and (b) impeachment is getting less popular as time wears on, not more popular.
Nevertheless, this is now becoming a bit of a movement in the House. Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen has also floated the idea today, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer recommended it in his floor remarks:
Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer says Pelosi should withhold transferring impeachment articles to Senate: "I hope the House retains control of the articles until the Speaker and Leader Schumer can negotiate agreement on process and witnesses from McConnell" https://t.co/wmoUYmh4Ty pic.twitter.com/11w20p41LP
— ABC News (@ABC) December 18, 2019
Help me out here. If indeed the articles are accompanied by “overwhelming evidence” of Trump’s wrongdoing, as Blumenauer claims, then why does Schumer need to call more witnesses? One would think that House Democrats would be making a res ipsa loquitur argument today, not a demand to add to their case. That sounds like an admission of failure, not a vote of full confidence.
Besides, as noted above, this gets worse for Democrats the longer it stretches out. and not just in polling. Any delay in transmitting the articles of impeachment will make this process look more political, not less. McConnell’s proposal to apply the previous rules is reasonable and rational, especially since those rules enjoyed unanimous bipartisan support in 1999. Democrats will have to have a really good explanation as to why they’re playing games with this “somber” process to change the rules that worked for Clinton. If the only explanation is that Schumer wants control over the trial, that ain’t it, Bucky.
As far as leverage goes, Schumer has none anyway. If it’s hardball Democrats want, McConnell could open the trial and then litigate the subpoenas if he was truly inclined to mischief, and that would tie up every Senate incumbent, possibly for months. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders would get grounded from campaigning, leaving the field open for Joe Biden or maybe even Michael Bloomberg. Plus, that would open up an opportunity for Republicans to issue subpoena requests of their own to Hunter Biden, Adam Schiff, Schiff’s staff, the whistleblower, and perhaps even some FBI agents regarding some of the other impeachment investigations into Trump and the tactics used to develop them.
If House Democrats really find their case deficient, then they should go back and start over from scratch on it. Either that, or get this over with and live with the consequences. The American electorate has already lost interest in this, and this stunt won’t endear Democrats to them any further.