The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

Impeachment, Take Two

Reps Tom Cole (R., Texas)(R) and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) take part in a meeting of the House Rules Committee as House Democrats draft an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., January 12, 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

On the menu today: The House will vote to impeach Donald Trump today — again — and at least a handful of Republicans will support the effort; Mitch McConnell reportedly supports Trump’s removal, spurring pledges of far-off future retribution; and the question of whether a resolution of censure represents a serious consequence.

Today, the House of Representatives Will Impeach the President . . . Again

Back on January 7, I wrote, “we’ve awoken in a different world from yesterday’s, and events are moving quickly now.” Events are now moving so quickly that in the time from when I type this to the time you read it, the circumstances in Washington may have changed.

A decent number of right-of-center folks, inside and outside of government, who opposed impeaching Trump for the Ukraine phone call believe that impeachment is warranted now.

Last time the House voted on impeaching the president in December 2019, the only semi-Republican who voted in favor of impeachment was Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, who by that point had left the GOP over his opposition to Trump and identified as an independent. He voted in favor of the first article. No member of the House GOP in 2019 voted in favor of impeachment.

Two Democrats — Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota — voted against the first article of impeachment. Van Drew switched to the Republican Party shortly after impeachment, and Peterson was defeated in November. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii voted “present”; she didn’t run for another term in 2020.

As of this hour, no Democrat has expressed opposition to impeaching Trump now. As of this writing, five House Republicans support it: Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan, and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington. Out of 211 House Republicans, that’s a handful — but maybe just enough to plausibly argue that this impeachment is not just another partisan vendetta.

Representative Cheney’s statement had a curious detail:

Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.

What is going to “become clear in coming days and weeks”? I’m one of the folks who thought impeachment should move as quickly as possible, but if Cheney knows the general public will soon be informed about something that is clarifying . . . would it make sense to delay the vote until that information is released?

Both House impeachments of Trump will be largely along party lines, but this one will have a slight shift in the direction of a bipartisan impeachment.

Mitch McConnell, Still — For Now — the Most Powerful Man in Washington

There are reports from Axios and the New York Times that Senate majority leader (for a little while longer*) Mitch McConnell supports impeachment and the president’s removal from office. Perhaps even more surprisingly, Jonathan Martin of the Times wrote on Twitter: “a Senate Republican aide tells me he thinks there were about 20, give or take, Republicans who were *open* to a conviction.” Removing Trump from office would require 17 GOP senators, assuming all senators voted.

Word of McConnell’s potential support of impeachment brought quick pledges of vengeance from Trump supporters, vowing to defeat the Kentucky Republican next time he runs — apparently not realizing that McConnell was reelected this past November, and it will be roughly five and a half years before he faces a primary opponent, if he chooses to run for another term at all. As I put it last night, this is like shouting: “Mark my words, Mitch McConnell, this, your seventh term in the Senate, will be your last! Get ready, because we are going to take you down in the 2026 Kentucky Senate primary! Don’t think we’ll take it easy on you just because you’ll be 84!”

You’re going to try to punish Cocaine Mitch in mid 2026? I’m not even sure the guy buys any green bananas.

For those dreaming of recalling McConnell, the U.S. Constitution does not provide for nor authorize the recall of senators, representatives, or the president or vice president, and thus no member of Congress has ever been recalled in the history of the United States. What’s more, the state of Kentucky has no recall provisions for any office on the books.

By the time of the 2026 Republican Senate primary in Kentucky, we will have lived through God knows how many other controversies and crises and problems. The impeachment of Trump that occurred in January 2020 wasn’t a major factor in the presidential election of November of that same year; what are the odds that an impeachment of Trump in January 2021 will be foremost in the minds of Kentucky Republicans sometime in the middle of 2026?

When you look at this inarticulate, flailing, obtuse rage, hapless and powerless up against careful calibration and a careful study of the law and procedure . . . it’s almost as if those who like to read will often have significant advantages over those who think of themselves as “not a reader.”

*For those wondering, considering the pace of Georgia’s certification of the Senate runoff results, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are likely to be sworn in January 20 or so.)

Outside the halls of Congress, Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal is unconvinced that impeachment would worsen the national condition: “It’s always possible that things could get worse, but we’ve already seen a storming of the Capitol, a president who refuses to concede defeat, and 147 Republicans in the House and Senate who have voted to overturn the November election results. Will a second impeachment — this one actually warranted, by the way — be some sort of tipping point?”

Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, is also done with Trump:

I was the first editor-in-chief of an intellectual review to support Donald Trump. Possibly I was the first editor to do so. Yet now after a thorough review of last week’s bruising events, I most emphatically condemn his reckless rhetoric, and I affirm that I can no longer support him. If anything, I should have done so earlier. Too much wreckage has accumulated around him. Too many reputations have been destroyed by him. One of the most admirable virtues in politics is loyalty. I know who has been loyal to Donald. To whom has he been loyal?

Donald was an amazing man, but now his legacy is endangered, and the man who endangered it is Donald Trump. He never took advice from anyone, and he went through many first-rate advisers. He treated staff horribly, men like Jeff Sessions, Mick Mulvaney, and Mark Meadows. He had the best vice president that I have seen in my lifetime. For a while he treated Mike Pence with dignity. When it came down to last week — Washington’s Hell Week — he treated the vice president as shabbily as he treated everyone else.

Reportedly, Kevin McCarthy is open to a resolution of censure instead of impeachment. If McCarthy really wants to derail impeachment, he could and should write up and introduce that resolution. Let everyone see how hard or soft that censure would be, instead of trying to get them to commit beforehand to something not yet written.

Republicans who want to avoid impeachment should get the ball rolling; get momentum behind that option, and momentum for impeachment would slow down. Perhaps some congressional Democrats would concur that Trump would be more seriously punished by a bipartisan resolution of censure than a mostly party-line vote on impeachment again. (Obviously, the first impeachment didn’t deter Trump’s worst impulses at all.)

Because right now, the president is convinced he did nothing wrong and that everything he did and said was “totally appropriate.” The president believes nothing he did warrants any consequences. The question now is how many Republicans in Congress feel the same way.

ADDENDUM: CNN Airport Network will cease operations at the end of March, because there just isn’t enough of an audience in airports in a pandemic-altered world. No word on what will replace it; I’d recommend a loop of movies such as Die Hard 2, Passenger 57, Executive Decision, Red Eye, and Airport 77.

Starting January 26, the U.S. will require negative COVID tests for all international air travelers. That’s one detail of the near future in Hunting Four Horsemen that I nailed. Keep an eye on the Olympics, as well. If Tokyo is forced to cancel theirs entirely, you’ll see real pressure to not hold the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Finally, if you can stand something a little risqué this early in the day, you almost have to salute the creativity of residents of Quebec. Alas, the province’s COVID-19 restrictions that allow residents to walk their pets on a leash only apply to the four-legged kind, not the two-legged kind.

At least the couple was following all local leash laws.