Translation: The votes aren’t there to remove Donald Trump in an impeachment trial. Reportedly, Mitch McConnell had favored removal, as Axios, the NYT, and CBS all reported from their own sources over the last 15 hours or so. But he’s not going to set up a trial unless he knows the outcome, as I predicted this morning:
NEWS —> McConnell’s office called Schumer’s people today + told them McConnell would not consent to reconvening immediately under the 2004 emergency authorities, a person familiar says. So the Senate won’t reconvene Friday, or almost certainly before Jan. 19. Trial in Biden term
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) January 13, 2021
Axios’ Alayna Treene confirms:
Can confirm. McConnell spokesman tells me on record they declined to an emergency session. No shot trial begins Friday, unlikely it happens before Jan. 19/ the inauguration https://t.co/rZV3x6vLiy
— Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene) January 13, 2021
McConnell’s too smart to go on a flyer with an impeachment trial. If he had 17 in his caucus ready to give Trump the boot, then he would have assented to the special emergency session — assuming he himself supported removal, as reported. Without it, though, he would have exposed himself and his caucus to all sorts of political blowback from all directions.
One has to wonder whether Lindsey Graham succeeded in whipping the caucus better than McConnell did:
Graham, who has been aligned closely with President Trump for most of the past four years, said the mob that stormed the Capitol last week should be held accountable, but that Republicans should not support impeachment.
“To my Republican colleagues who legitimize this process, you are doing great damage not only to the country, the future of the presidency, but also to the party. … The individuals who participated in the storming of the Capitol should be met with the full force of the law. They should and will be held accountable,” Graham said in the statement. …
Graham didn’t mention McConnell by name in his statement but said that “as to Senate leadership, I fear they are making the problem worse, not better.”
“The last thing the country needs is an impeachment trial of a president who is leaving office in one week,” he said.
That’s not an entirely bad argument. Without a doubt, last week’s events did a great deal of damage to the country, and Trump has some moral and political responsibility for that. So too do some Republicans in the House and Senate for engaging and enabling the corrosive and unconstitutional effort to exclude states from the presidential election decision. There is a real question of whether that damage needs to be addressed by removal from office, or whether that damage would increase in that kind of a rushed outcome.
Graham’s position may or may not be correct or laudable. It is, however, at least arguable and defensible. Like it or not, it seems to have carried the day. Of course, the lack of Republicans in the House willing to support impeachment might also have something to do with their upper-chamber colleagues’ unwillingness to climb out on that limb, too. As I mentioned earlier as well, the lack of the expected flood of support for Liz Cheney’s position might well have been a bellwether for McConnell on that question.
At any rate, it’s clear now that there will be no trial until after Biden takes office. And that might mean no trial at all.