The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Worst of Both Worlds on Impeachment

President Trump speaks during a rally in Washington, D.C., January 6, 2021. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Politico’s Natasha Korecki contends the management of Twitter has given Joe Biden a “priceless gift” by shutting down Donald Trump’s account.

As he entered his first week in office, President Joe Biden was handed a priceless gift: the blissful sound of former President Donald Trump’s Twitter silence.

Gone are the pre-dawn tirades, the all-caps declarations, the “Sleepy Joe” mocking, the Fox News-driven agitations and the general incitements. Instead, Biden debuted a flurry of executive orders without ever having to deal with what surely would have been rapid-fire antagonism from the man whose legacy he was dismantling.

That interpretation is probably accurate, but Twitter is likely also doing a favor to Trump himself. If the former president were still rage-tweeting, insisting he won the election, arguing that Biden was an illegitimate figure who stole the presidency, and contending that the Capitol Hill riot is “the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” it would probably add to the momentum for a conviction in the Senate. At any given moment, a loud and enraged Trump could call for another rally at the Capitol or White House and set up another confrontation with police and perhaps the National Guard on patrol around Washington. In that scenario, the desire for a bipartisan rebuke, and Republican appetite to end Trump’s 2024 ambitions, would grow.

But a quiet Trump is a minimal threat to anyone, and his uncharacteristic lingering silence makes impeachment seem like a solution to a problem that already resolved itself. The Biden administration would prefer the Senate minimized the amount of time spent on impeachment, and most Senate Republicans are terrified of the political consequences of voting to convict.

The Democratic congressional leadership has already made a hash of things, by delaying the procedure, then rushing it, then delaying it again. Members were calling for Trump’s impeachment almost immediately after the Capitol Hill riot January 6, but the article of impeachment wasn’t introduced for five days. After minimal debate and no committee hearings, the House impeached the president January 13, but Pelosi didn’t formally send the article over to the Senate until January 25, five days after Trump left office. The trial is scheduled to begin February 9, and at this point, it is not clear if either side will call witnesses.

Some members of Congress just want to get this over with and move on to other business, and others want to take their time, do a thorough job, and build a clear case for the historical record, whether or not it is realistic to expect 67 senators to convict. The result so far has been the worst of both worlds — not speedy enough to be resolved during Trump’s presidency, but skipping through traditional steps that ensured the public Congress took this duty seriously.

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