What are voters saying about witnesses for the president’s Senate trial? That they want Trump’s top aides to testify.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that Americans are basically split 50-50 on impeachment, but having his top aides testify is the one thing a majority agrees should happen, including almost 2 in 3 Republicans (64 percent).
What are our options for recourse if the senators do not take their juror roles seriously or refuse to hear witnesses in the Senate trial? Elections.
Remember that the Constitution left the impeachment trial up to the Senate, knowing that would make it a political process. So besides swearing an oath of impartiality when they get started, there is neither a standard of fairness that senators have to meet nor anything else I’ve seen in the 1980s Senate rules that mention it.
Is how senators vote based largely, or even entirely, on how their vote will affect their chances of reelection? I think that’s a safe bet.
Senators could vote their conscience, regardless of the political fallout. But senators are also focused on representing their constituencies. (That’s the least cynical way to look at this, anyway.) Here’s Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat who represents Alabama, saying this weekend that he’s undecided on whether to convict or acquit Trump: “Quite frankly, I didn’t sit in front of the TV set the entire time the last two or three months. I’ve been trying to read this. I’m trying to see if the dots get connected.”
Why does the chief justice only get to rule on whether the Senate is violating its own rules? Why isn’t the chief justice the one who sets all the rules? Because then the Constitution would have set the impeachment trial in the Supreme Court.
The Founding Fathers didn’t. They left this up to the Senate, the implication being that impeachment is a political process and not a judicial one.
What does it mean to be impeached? At the end of the day, he’s still president, right? He still sits in the White House signing bills and making decisions, right? Right and right. Let me use a metaphor to explain this: Impeachment is like a vote of no confidence from the House. A president is impeached by the House but not removed from office unless the Senate convicts him.
Why bother with the impeachment? It’s a mark in the history books, and not in a good way. That counts for something, House Democrats figured.
If the Senate doesn’t vote in favor of removing Trump, what will be the consequences to his presidency? Is he allowed to continue to do whatever he wants, or will he be limited in some meaningful way? If the Senate acquits him on both counts, he may feel emboldened. He could argue that his name was cleared by the Senate.
Why does everything say that Trump is the third president to be impeached, when he is the fourth? Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and now Trump have been impeached by the House.
President Richard M. Nixon was on the verge of being impeached — and perhaps convicted by the Senate. But reading the signs, he resigned before any of that could happen. So while four presidents have faced impeachment, only three have been impeached. None has been convicted by the Senate and removed from office.
Could the House wait until a new Senate is sworn in in 2021 and send the articles of impeachment to it for a trial then? Hmm. I have reached out to a constitutional expert about this to confirm, but it’s the holidays. My hypothesis is that because this is an unprecedented situation, there are no rules about how long House Democrats could hold the articles of impeachment back.
By the way, it’s a long shot that Democrats will win back the Senate in November. The path goes through a number of states that Trump won in 2016.
No question — just thanks and enjoy the holidays. You, too! I’ll be off until Friday. See you then!