As Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted, “I hate to break the news to the Resistance, but you … can keep your partisan impeachment articles as long as you want.” The Senate "will just keep confirming judges, approving trade deals, & doing the people’s business.” Cotton is right. Senate Republicans don’t care when, or if, Pelosi ever sends the impeachment articles over.
First, if House Democrats don’t send over the articles of impeachment, then according to one of their handpicked witnesses, Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, President Trump has not been impeached. “If the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn’t actually impeached the president,” Feldman wrote, because “A president who has been genuinely impeached must constitutionally have the right to defend himself before the Senate.” Other legal experts disputed his analysis, but no matter. If they don’t transmit the articles, Trump can cite the constitutional expert whom Democrats called to testify in favor of his impeachment as declaring that he “could legitimately say he wasn’t truly impeached at all.”
Second, if Democrats don't transmit the articles of impeachment, they lose the fairness argument. Right now, Democrats claim they are delaying in the name of “fairness.” But what is really unfair is to accuse the president of high crimes and misdemeanors and then deny him a trial in which he can clear his name. Democrats were the ones who rushed the process, setting an artificial deadline to impeach before Christmas. And now they say the Senate should call witnesses they were in too much of a hurry to wait for? The longer they delay, the weaker their fairness argument becomes in the eyes of the American people.
Third, if they don’t send over the articles, House Democrats undermine their case that Trump engaged in obstruction of Congress. Democrats say the president obstructed Congress by refusing to provide witnesses and documents. It is a ridiculous charge. When a dispute arises between the executive and legislative branches, the president has a right to appeal to the third equal branch of government — the judiciary. That’s exactly what Trump did. It was the Democrats who said they could not wait for the courts to decide, because the matter was too urgent. But now, suddenly, they have all the time in the world? Delaying sending the impeachment articles to the Senate makes a mockery of the obstruction charge.
Some have speculated that Democrats are delaying sending the articles to delay Trump’s inevitable vindication. But Trump’s vindication was inevitable before they even began the impeachment process. The later they send the articles of impeachment, the better for Trump and Senate Republicans. McConnell would be happy to hold the trial during the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary, or Super Tuesday — or even during the Democratic National Convention, if they would like.
The closer the trial is to the November election, the more absurd impeachment becomes. There has never been a presidential impeachment trial during a presidential election year. The logic of voting not to convict becomes stronger with every passing day. Every Republican senator can say: Look, the voters are going to decide whether to remove Trump in a few months; I am not going to usurp their decision.
In other words, the Democrats have come to the end of the road where they call the shots on this political impeachment process. Send the articles, Madame Speaker, or don’t send the articles. Republicans could care less.