Like Bill Clinton, Donald Trump is about to be impeached on the eve of Christmas. The grinches were Republicans in December 1998. Now they are Democrats.
Even as former Trump campaign officials Rick Gates was being sentenced to forty-five days in prison and Paul Manafort was rushed to a hospital for a cardiac event, the Democrats moved forward with impeachment proceedings in the House. A formal vote to impeach Trump and set the stage for a Senate trial is scheduled for Wednesday. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests that after weeks of sound and fury, not much has changed. Poll numbers show that 49 percent of Americans want Trump impeached and ousted from office. Meanwhile, 46 percent of those polled do not. Additionally, 85 percent of Democrats want the former to occur; and 86 percent of Republicans the latter. The battle is starting to resemble a political version of World War I trench warfare. Stalemate, not checkmate, appears to be the result.
Or is it?
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell is moving for a rapid trial rather than the prolonged one that Democrats are seeking. On Tuesday McConnell rebuffed Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer’s request to call four new witnesses, including White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton. McConnell declared, “The trajectory that the Democratic leader apparently wants to take us down before he has even heard opening arguments could set a nightmarish precedent for our institution. If the Senate volunteers ourselves to do House Democrats’ homework for them, then we will only incentivize an endless stream of dubious partisan impeachments in the future, and we will invite future Houses to paralyze future Senates with frivolous impeachment at will.” Democrats are crying foul. The failure of the House Democrats to finish their “homework” was, they say, a direct product of the White House’s refusal to furnish Mulvaney, Bolton and others for testimony. McConnell seems likely to get his way. Senators Susan Collins, Mitt Romney and Joni Ernst don’t appear as though they’re going to budge away from the Republican side when it comes to setting the rules for the Senate trial.