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Impeachment: Where we’re at, and where we’re probably going

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It looks like this is where we’re at. The House will vote Articles of Impeachment, probably by the end of the year. These Articles will include obstruction of justice at the very least (concerning Trump’s illegal attempts to completely block the House from issuing subpoenas and doing its Constitutional duty to investigate).

The Senate then will be obligated to conduct a Trial. McConnell (may his name live in infamy) has already stated he will allow this to go forward. But Republicans say many things that they later retract, and McConnell in the end will do whatever his master, Trump, tells him to. And Trump may instruct him not to hold a Trial.

What does the Constitution say? The relevant clauses are in Article 1, Section 3:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

That seems clear enough: The Senate “shall.” But we’ve already seen how Constitutionally-mandated “shalls” are routinely disregarded by this rogue administration and its Republican henchmen in Congress. U.S. law explicitly states that, upon request by a legitimate committee of the House of Representatives or the Senate, “The Secretary [of the Treasury] shall furnish such committee with any [tax] return or return information specified in such request…”.

That’s the law. But Trump commanded his craven Treasury Secretary, the chinless Mnuchin, not to hand over his [Trump’s] tax returns, in violation of the law. So much for “shall.” If Trump can nullify one law and get away with it, he feels he can nullify any law.

If McConnell does refuse to hold a Trial he, and Trump, and Republicans in general will come under enormous, withering condemnation. The media will howl—but Fox “News” will praise the effort, alleging that a “fake Impeachment” ought not to have been allowed in the first place…and it’s likely that the entire Republican base will support McConnell and Trump, as they have all along. Where will we be then?

Once again, in those uncharted waters of “a Constitutional crisis.” But we’ve there before, too, a dozen times, with this lawless, kleptomaniacal president in power. What can Democrats do, besides howl in indignation and await for the 2020 elections?

But let us take McConnell at his word; he has been, if not honorable, at least consistent in his fealty to Trump. He said he would allow a Trial, so let’s assume the Trial actually does occur.

Democrats will present their witnesses. An overwhelming case will be made (to the Senators and to the American people) that, yes, there was a quid pro quo. Trump threatened to withhold military aid and other favors from Ukraine, in exchange—not for anything in the national interest (which would be okay)—but in exchange for a personal “favor”: to invent dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden. That’s against the law. That’s an abuse of power, at the very least. After all the evidence is in, then what?

Chances are that support for Removal from Office (now hovering at around 50%) will tick up a few points—say, to 54%. It can’t go much higher, because Trump still commands the support of about 40% of the American public (what pathetic fools they are!). Even at 54% favoring Removal, the Senate will never see twenty Republicans voting for Removal. It may see none, not even the hapless Susan Collins, who may make the political calculation that voting for the Constitution is more damaging to her re-election than trashing whatever’s left of her morals and standing by her man, Trump. So the Senate votes to acquit. What then?

Trump Unleashed! Trump Unchained! “Vindicated!!!” he will tweet. “First the phony Mueller Report and now the phony Ukraine deal!!! Dems threw everything they had at me and they lost!!! Bigtime!!!” And so it will go. Republicans, triumphant, will be energized. The right wing media will break both arms patting itself on the back. Democrats will just have to endure a period of painful defeat.

And then what? Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 looms ahead. Let us suppose all the above (with all the uncertainties) occurs by, say, May, 2020. The campaign is in full swing. The Democratic nominee already will have been a foregone conclusion, or close to becoming one. All other issues—the economy, foreign policy, immigration, abortion—are swept aside in the maelstrom of the recent Trial and its result. The country remains divided; all is balanced on the knife’s edge of Nov. 3.

And then? My prediction, made with increasing certainty in light of the 2018 election results (Blue Wave) and last Tuesday’s election results (Democratic victories in Kentucky and Virginia): Another Blue Wave. Democrats retake the Senate and keep the House. Trump is defeated, and not in a close contest: he will obtain no more than 190 electoral votes (out of 270 that are needed to win). The Democratic candidate wins. But then something unexpected happens:

Trump refuses to accept the election results. In a shitstorm of tweets and Rose Garden statements, at MAGA rallies and on Fox & Friends, he rages against the Fake Election; he charges foreign interference on behalf of the Democrats (Trump loves to accuse others of the very crimes he himself commits); he urges his supporters to Resist (he even co-opts the name of The Resistance to him!); he commands “his” police and “his” gun owners to “protect the Constitution” and fight against “foreign and domestic enemies.”

Trump knows how to do this stuff really good: rile up his base and spread consternation among his political enemies. When and if he takes this step, America really will be in the middle of a Constitutional Crisis.

Have a great weekend!

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