The Impeachment End Game

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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68 Responses

  1. Philip H says:

    Yeah, if that was Alexander’s real position I would have expected him to say “and after we vote to acquit I’ll introduce a Sense of the Senate Resolution condemning the President for these actions.” But he didn’t. And he’s retiring so he looses nothing.


    • Cowards.

      I kind of agree. Not just because Mr. Alexander is retiring, but because anyone in the Senate who loses their current job has multiple opportunities to land on their feet. “Former senator” can look good on a resume, I’d imagine.Report

  2. PD Shaw says:

    Do you have any examples of politicians doing mea culpa? I mean doing so where there any stakes in play and without all of the implicit qualifiers of a non-apology apology.

    This is not in the modern politicians training or skill set. They are rewarded for exhibiting constancy and conviction. In time, this makes them more stupid. We demand an absurd level of certainty from our politicians – and this makes them stupid The irony here is that Trump is from outside politics, but his background is in pretty much the same sorts of confidence games in a different context.

    Trump may not have violated any laws that the House felt it could use as an article of impeachment, but that doesn’t mean that once Trump is out of office, a Democratic prosecutor somewhere won’t be dreaming of taking him down. I see no value in a mea culpa and the system won’t reward him for doing it.Report

    • Philip H in reply to PD Shaw says:

      new york state prosecutors see no such bars to their investigations. i wonder if they are awaiting the end of this sham to drop some indictments.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Philip H says:

        I doubt they’ll issue any indictment of a sitting President, nor would they find much support for that from the courts. Our system of government can’t work if every small town sheriff and prosecutor is given the ability to overthrow any President they don’t like by simply throwing him in a cell because he ordered his motorcade to run a red light. What’s the point of pretending to elect a government if Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and other local egomaniacs, all get their own private vetoes? Heck, Obama would have penned his own Letters from a Birmingham Jail because that’s where he’d have spent most of his second term.

        The obvious response to such a petty pissing contest is for the President to show who has more guns, more smart bombs, and more cruise missiles. As Chip so eloquently said below, where do you hide when the devil turns around?Report

        • Philip H in reply to George Turner says:

          There’s no reason they can’t indict him now and defer the trial until he’s out of office. They aren’t bound by federal rules as is DOJ.

          And really – unleashing the might of our armed forces on New York State because the president has been indicted for criminal conduct – thats what tin pot dictators do, not US presidents. Until now anyway.Report

  3. Chip Daniels says:

    One thing I have noticed is that extremism breeds it’s mirror image.

    I hear Democrats talking about court packing, adding Puerto Rico and DC as states, and so on, taking extreme norm-shattering bare knuckle moves to win.
    Because, as has been stated so often when you cut down the forest of laws to chase the devil, where will you hide when he turns around?Report

    • JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      There are some significant differences in the mirroring. The church of ability is not afraid to destroy its social constructs, because they know they can survive without them. The church of needs is afraid to destroy its social constructs, because they don’t know how to live without them.

      As long as we have the two freedoms problem we will have this mismatch in the mirroring and kicking the board over is more a problem for one player than the other.

      We were better off without the two freedoms problem because there was equal stake in it for both players.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to JoeSal says:

        I understand all these words, just not in the order in which you have placed them.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          You are doing better then me then. I understand the dictionary definitions of the individual words but the concepts created by stringing them together thusly are unintelligible. Plus they lack context.

          Par for the course I guess.Report

        • JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I know brother and to be forward it is often a little testing. I’ve been circling the maypole with ya for the better part of a decade and I often think at least once a week when you close your eyes to drift off to sleep the back of your eyelids blink with a:

          FORMAT C:

          I still love ya thoughReport

    • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      “extremism breeds it’s mirror image.”

      see, that’s the thing, that you say “extremism breeds its mirror image”, but if I said “insisting that disagreement can only come from racism and hatred encourages people to think that maybe they’re actually hateful racists” then you’d say “well that’s just their natural state coming out and I had nothing to do with it except for stripping away their soft safe blanket of hypocrisy that let them pretend we were all friends”.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    I read the opening sentence: “As the Impeachment Saga drags on into its second week in the Senate”

    And I found myself wondering “How long did Clinton’s impeachment take?”

    From the wiki:
    “The impeachment of Bill Clinton was initiated on October 8, 1998”
    “On December 19, 1998, Clinton became the second American president to be impeached”
    “On February 12, Clinton was acquitted on both counts”

    So I thought, how does this compare to the impeachment of Donald Trump?

    “The inquiry stage of Trump’s impeachment lasted from September to November 2019,”
    “In November, the House Intelligence Committee held a number of public hearings in which witnesses testified publicly”
    “on December 3, the committee voted 13–9 along party lines to adopt a final report.”
    “A set of impeachment hearings before the House Judiciary Committee began on December 4”
    “on December 13, it voted 23–17 along party lines to recommend two articles of impeachment”
    “The committee released a lengthy report on the impeachment articles on December 16”
    “The articles were submitted to the Senate on January 16, 2020, initiating the trial.”

    If the impeachment wraps up today, that means it closed down on January 31st.Report

  5. Sam Wilkinson says:

    The fundamental, foundational plank of conservatism is that the law exists to bind other everybody else. Lamar Alexander’s cowardly absurdity is this in action. “Sure, he did all these things that we were just months ago insisting he hadn’t done and that if he had done them it would of course be a huge deal, but so what?” There is no bottom to this. There is no end.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      Ditto Marco Rubio who can best be paraphrased as “Yeah he did it but I want to do it so I’ll let him skate.”Report

      • Mr.Joe in reply to Philip H says:

        I have to give Rubio props for honesty on this one. He straight up said that Trump did it, it is impeachable, but he does not want to remove Trump from office.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      Because he’s retiring, Alexander’s decision-making provides some insight into the gravity of voting to convict a same-party POTUS of High Crimes. It’s possible that he sincerely believes Trump doesn’t deserve to be convicted even though he did all the things Dems have accused him of doing. It’s *easier* to conclude, however, that loyalty to the Party plays a prominent role in shaping his views.

      To his credit, he at least admits the obvious – that what Trump did was wrong – unlike Ben Sasse, who justified his “no” vote by creating a fictional story where Trump acted on bad advice by withholding the aid, then acted on good advice by releasing it.

      The winner of the surprisingly-unsurpring category, though, goes to Susan Collins, who justified her “no” vote by suggesting Trump has been so severely chastened he won’t engage in these types of shenanigans again. Concurrent reporting that Trump’s newly created enemies list includes a directive that Bill Barr arrest John Bolton must be attributed to reporter’s fanciful imaginings since *that* Trump no longer exists.

      Murkowski deserves an award too: the High Horse Award. Her argument was that she was angry at the Dems. They handed over to the Senate a compelling case against the President, one which, unfortunately for her, she agrees with. In fact, she agrees with it – again, unfortunately for her – so much that she wanted the Dems to have done *an even better job* of proving it, but since they didn’t she’ll also vote “no” on procedural grounds.

      What a time to be alive!Report

  6. Aaron David says:

    Cruz, 49, said Warren tried to give her presidential campaign a boost ahead of the Iowa caucuses, but it backfired by driving Republicans to vote against calling additional witnesses to testify.
    “Elizabeth Warren helped defeat the impeachment of the president of the United States,” the Texas Republican said on his podcast, The Verdict.

    “That stunt helped deliver the votes of Lisa and Lamar,” he added, referring to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican.

    -Sen. Ted Cruz.

    I don’t know if I would go that far, but idiotic stunts like Warrens sure didn’t help.Report

    • Ozzzy! in reply to Aaron David says:

      For those of us not up to speed on Ted Cruz’s podcast, what stunt did warren do? The misinfo announcement?Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Ozzzy! says:

        She drove the Republicans to do what they were going to do all along.
        Drove them, do you understand? DROVE. THEM.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to Ozzzy! says:

        Mmm… Sorry. I should have put that in for clairity. But, here was Sen. Warren’s question during the inpeachment hearings:

        “At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution?”

        Seems the whole fiasco that was the House hearings and who got to call witnesses there went right over her head. Along with other things.Report

        • No. Warren’s question was silly, juvenile, giggling crap. And if a single Republican voted against witnesses because of it, they need to be driven out of Congress on a rocket-powered sled. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard in at least the last 45 minutes. “Well, I was going to call witnesses, but Warren was a twerp, so …” Grow the hell up, GOP.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Michael Siegel says:

            Disagree. The logic (if you can call it that…) of casting impeachment votes is almost entirely driven by retail political concerns, foremost among them being the effect on re-election prospects. The idea that Senators are guided by a deeper set of principles or principles other than personal and partisan politics, strikes me as naive, as part of the American political mythology Trump and his acolytes are actively exposing as nonsense. So in that sense, if Murkowski justifiably believed that Warren’s comments tilted public perception in her state against a vote on witnesses, she’s acting rationally. She gets to support the party at no political cost to herself.

            Of course, it’s yet to be determined if GOP ‘No’ voters will pay a price, and from what I’m seeing – or maybe feeling is the better word – they’re right to believe voting against witnesses will cost them any votes in their re-election bids. But even more than that, Warren’s question to Roberts *was* childish and preening and constitutes a bigger ding against Democrats than Murk’s ‘no witnesses’ vote, at least for the few people whose votes are potentially get-able.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

              I agree with this.

              (Note: This next part assumes my whole “Three Groups of Voters” thing.)

              Here’s another dynamic that I think exists: The Impeachment not succeeding will be seen as a victory, of sorts, by Republican Partisans. It will be seen as a Moral Imperative that, technically, didn’t work out the way that it was supposed to because of how awful the Republican Partisans are by Democratic Partisans.

              How will Group Three see it?

              I dunno. But I will say that the more that it is made to look like political stunt, the more that it will look like a political stunt that failed.

              And Warren contributed to it looking like a political stunt.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                I think it’s two things: that the GOP has leaned into being able to sell the narrative that the Dems engaged in a political stunt coupled with a realization that Americans are or have become phenomenally apathetic about voting for lofty principles over their own immediate partisan or personal interests. So the principle of “having a fair trial”, which Democrats are hammering as some sort of game-changer, is viewed by the public as a self-serving political appeal *rather than* as an important constitutional principle which only the high-minded Dems are defending. But I think the public sees that as a matter of fact Democrats *don’t* view it as an important constitutional principle, since many current sitting Senators and others voted against witnesses in the Clinton impeachment.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m highly skeptical that the whole ‘fair trial’ thing has legs with anyone, including the people who are mouthing the words.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                Agreed. Substitute it with another Dem talking point: that GOP Senators who vote against winesses are “engaging in the coverup”.

                I’m not sure that phrase has legs either, but I think Dem politicians (and lots of GOPers as well) believe that it’s true.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                The fact that we’re having the conversation shows me that there wasn’t really a plan for this point in the process and we’re now flailing for spin that the spinners transparently don’t themselves believe.

                Maybe there was no getting around a vote for impeachment and Pelosi wouldn’t have been able to hold her party together without it. But the decision to drag it out like this is looking dumber by the day. They should’ve sent the articles to the Senate immediately, let them go down on a party line vote without delay, say ‘we tried out of principle and failed, now onto the election’ and left it at that.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                I don’t think she handled it badly (personally, I think she should have held the articles for much longer than she did), and I think the Senate voting for a quick acquittal was pre-determined (which is why I think she should have held onto the articles).

                I think she wanted to splash around in the kiddie pool when the real action was happening in the deep end, and she (like most Democrats, in particular Schumer)) didn’t have the stomach for a sink-or-swim proposition.

                Which, in a political sense, isn’t different from sinking.Report

              • greginak in reply to InMD says:

                Unquestionably the House should have held onto the impeachment for longer. In the last 3 weeks we have had two potential major witness ( parnass and bolton) providing new evidence. If the Big I was still in the House the could have subpoenaed them and used their info.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                I will say that the more that it is made to look like corrupt political stunt, the more that it will look like a corrupt political stunt.

                And McConnell contributed to it looking like a corrupt political stunt.

                Also the process of crying “impeachment failed!” which is the narrative the Republicans are trying to sell is viewed by the public as a self-serving political appeal *rather than* an important constitutional principle.

                Of course, the obvious response would be for someone to ask “Hey, Chip, how the hell do you know “what it looks like” to the American people? Do you have some sort of secret insight that the rest of us aren’t privy to?
                How could your assertion be proved or falsified? And for that matter, why not just speak in your own voice about what you’re thinking, rather than what you think other people are thinking?”Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Also the process of crying “impeachment failed!” which is the narrative the Republicans are trying to sell is viewed by the public as a self-serving political appeal *rather than* an important constitutional principle.

                Let’s check in on that proposition. There are three metrics I can think of by which impeachment could be viewed as succeeding:

                1. Trump is removed from office.
                2. Trump’s unconstitutional behavior is curtailed in the future.
                3. Dems net more votes than Republicans in the next election for having impeached (but not convicted) Trump.

                1 and 2 are clearly false, so impeachment can rightly be judged as a failure by those measures.

                3 is yet to be determined but pretty clearly (at least the last time a looked) support falls along narrow partisan lines. Ie., no bump for Dems. So likely a failure on the measure as well.

                I’ll add 3a to the list: the number of voters Dems would have lost by *not* impeaching Trump. Hard to say. I think that one was the real danger for Dems, though. Not impeaching would depress the base. I know it would have depressed me. 🙂Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                What does that mean that impeachment fails to gain the Dems votes?

                For me, it would mean that the American public acquiesces to open corruption and unchecked power.

                What would it mean to you?Report

              • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                So how does this opposition to open corruption square with voting for Biden, who extorted the president of a foreign country to protect his corrupt son from government investigation?

                The trouble is, the American public outside the bubble doesn’t see things the way you do. For example, obviously Trump’s power is the most checked in US history because the White House, and the whole government, is full of rats left over from the Obama Administration. He can’t eat a second scoop of ice cream without someone bringing up impeachment or the 25th Amendment, whereas Obama could fly pallets of unlawfully dispersed cash to Iran on a C-130 without the slightest worry. He could wiretap opposition candidates and get away with it. He could do anything he wanted.

                In fact, the impeachment bid failed because Trump is the President least likely to try anything corrupt and illegal because he is the President most likely to get nailed for it within couple of weeks.

                For Americans outside the bubble, the behavior of anti-Trump Democrats looks a lot like a deranged lunacy that crosses the line into open rebellion against the government of the United States, evincing a design to overthrow our elected system of government.

                The voters on board with the nonsense are the people who were already voting 100% Democrat every election, so there’s no votes to gain there. But there were plenty of votes to lose out in the heartland, and in the suburbs,, and Schiff and Nadler’s antics all but guaranteed that many of those votes would be lost.

                Now ask yourself, if Republicans had impeached and tried to remove Obama because he was, say, a black Muslim Kenyan communist impostor, how would that have translated into votes in the next election? Do you think some moderates would have signed on with that? Do you think some Democrats would cross over because, although they hated Republicans, they thought the country had to be purged of Obama’s dark presence?

                I’d suggest that such a move would’ve seen Democrats gaining two thirds majorities in both houses because most of the country would think the Republicans went nuts.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip, for that to even be remotely true, the D’s would have actually had to show either corruption or unchecked power of the pres. Instead, they played shinanigans in the house, showed dipshittery in holding the articles, and unchecked rage at having to beg for witnesses in the Senate. Witnesses they had plenty of time for in the house.

                Maybe if they had included some actual corruption charges in the articles, show and not tell. But no. Instead it came across as pure partisanship, with no one crossing the aisle to support but some crossing the aisle to deny.

                No, there was no corruption. Just bitter, sad partisanship. And hate. The D’s are now the party of hate.Congratulations.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Aaron David says:

                for that to even be remotely true, the D’s would have actually had to show either corruption or unchecked power of the pres.

                Not quite. Dems can “show” those things without people believing the conclusion. What you mean to say is that Dems needed to make people *believe* that Trump is corrupt.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Stillwater says:

                Splitting hairs, but OK.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Aaron David says:

                Not really? ??? I mean, if someone asks “where’s the crime?” I can show them the GAO report which said Trump committed a crime by withholding Congressionally authorized aid.

                What I can’t do is make them believe the GAO’s conclusion.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Stillwater says:

                And the GAO ‘s conclusions holds legal authority how? And the GAO said what atbout the Obama admin? Again, their is no their, their. If their was anything, the media would have been on it 24/7. But there was nothing to hang a hat on.

                It just never ends. Its like Kramer and Neuman replaying the Kennedy assassination.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Aaron David says:

                Again, their is no their, their.

                Ahh. You’re making my point for me.Report

              • greginak in reply to Aaron David says:

                So when the media reports evidence, it doens’t matter because the media sucks. (What is “the media”? There are sorts of outlets, some better, some worse. But whatever) But if the media sucks why not go to the good sources or watch the hearings or read the articles to get all the goods.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to greginak says:

                What evidence? The Steele dossier?

                Piss hookers?

                “Evidence” is what is entered into a court and the jury judges whether it is worthy or not. Anything “presented” by the media isn’t vetted in any serious manner. It is just hearsay or random pictures.

                We all watched the hearings, and they were, in a word, shit. Political grandstanding, parisan gamesmanship. Not once did they rise to the level of serious attempts to sway the public. So, a courts rules of evidence don’t apply. An impeachment is soley a political action to sway the nation that voting is too far away and uncertain.

                And the Dems failed to sway. As they have continualy in the Trump era. Oh, I am sure you believe the BS, but that belief isn’t spreading outside the left.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Not necessarily. But look at it this way: if the impeachment inquiry comprised of witnesses and documentary evidence was supposed to persuade the public that Trump is corrupt, then it failed. Hell, no GOP Senators are remotely moved towards voting against Trump while Dems like Manchin and Doug Jones are making noises about voting for acquittal. Some of that can be chalked up to Fox News but not all of it.

                People don’t like Democrats right now. And honestly, from Schumer’s idiotic Old Guy rants to the candidates in the primary to Hillary self-servingly sniping from the sidelines I can’t blame them.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                What could the Dems have done differently to have events reach a different outcome?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Dunno. But that’s a different issue than whether Republicans can successfully campaign on the Democrats “failed impeachment”.

                My own best guess at an answer is that Dems need a complete overhaul. Today I read that John Kerry is considering entering the 2020 primary to save the Party from Bernie now that he’s the frontrunner. Not to win the Presidency against Trump, which would make a bit of sense. But no. He’d run to save the Party.

                It’s an idea so dumb I’m inclined to think it came from Hillary’s advisers.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                Again, if we are playing the game of “Let’s pretend we are campaign consultants” then it doesn’t make any sense to say “They should have done something different but we dunno what it is or if it even would have changed things!”

                But then again, no one here really has even the foggiest notion of what the American people are thinking, so we’re already in “Lets pretend” land.

                I contend that any Monday morning quarterbacking is pointless and silly.

                Instead, it seems obvious that the facts of Trump’s behavior have been made clear to the American public, and we the people have a choice to make.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “They should have done something different but we dunno what it is or if it even would have changed things!”

                Yeah, you’re not reading what I’m writing Chip. I think the Dems were correct to impeach Trump. I think the impeachment failed for a whole slew of reasons, one of (which I mentioned in this thread): Pelosi should have held onto the articles and continued investigating, not only Trump but Pompeo and Barr.

                If you come at the king you best not miss.

                Another thing I’ve mentioned before: I believe Pelosi wants to retain her role as Speaker above all else. Above prosecuting Trump, above putting the GOP as a party on trial, above the Dems winning the presidency. She’s sorta fundamentally playing to not lose.Report

              • Ozzzy! in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I guess I’ll answer it flat out – The president is not impeachable under the charges put forward. I’d say for ‘high’ political (it takes a lot to get party members to admit fault) and ‘low’ popularity reasons (he has a lot of voters who are meh to yay! with him and they are voters who show up, and are fired up about his connection with people).

                It’s hard to successfully impeach a US president, and for good reason. if you start at ‘why isn’t he impeached? He lied about this and that is important!’ It doesn’t make any sense. But that isn’t where at least 40% of voters in the US start from.

                Given that dynamic, All the rest, from house trial to the Chief Justice, is politics and positioning.

                In case this wasn’t obvious, I’m talking about BC here, but it works rhetorically for a reason.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                More specifically:

                – on the legislative leadership side they need folks who are younger than 80

                – on presidential farm system level they need to stop running Senators who were prosecutors/lawyers (and are younger than 80)

                – on the base-support level they need to figure out how to comprise a coalition that isn’t fundamentally incoherent in terms of objectives and goals. The Dem coalition amounts to a whole bunch of squares that can’t be circledReport

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                I don’t disagree with your prescriptions, but then I have no real idea of what causes my fellow Dems to support Biden instead of Warren. Maybe you have a secret knowledge I’m not privy to.

                The bigger picture here is the underlying assumption that somehow, through some artful politicking and messagery strategery voodoo, Donald Trump would now be convicted by 67 senators.
                Or that through this same voodoo, the American people, Republicans and Democrats alike, would rise up and in one voice cry out “Out, damned despot!”

                Trump abused his office. The Republican Senators admitted this and refused to remove him.

                Its now up to the American people to decide what they want to do about that.

                Everything else is just…chatter.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Your fellow Dems *do* support Warren, though. And Bernie too. Two of the three front runners are apparently *not Democrats*. 🙂

                Hillary lost to the most disliked nominee in presidential history…Report

              • Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                What could the Dems have done differently to have events reach a different outcome?

                Three things:

                1. Bring an article or 10 articles about the President’s obstruction of the Russia investigation. Mr. Mueller laid out ten instances of obstruction he felt were prosecutable but did not do so because he followed DOJ policy against indicting a sitting President. Had they done so they could have established a pattern of corrupt behavior that, because it spans subjects and needs, is harder to dismiss.

                2. Spent way more time emphasizing the campaign interference angle of the impeachment charges, and not the Ukraine didn’t get their money part of the charges. Sorry to say the emphasis on Ukraine did indeed take away the necessity for many people.

                3. spent another month subpoenaing witnesses, fighting subpoenas in court, and holding hearings with empty chairs. One of the main reasons Mr. Trump remains popular with many is his fighters persona where he unabashedly takes strong emotions and uses them to “fight” or “Challenge” opponents even if there’s no policy outcome. Thus Mr. Trump is seen as fighting for a swath of people who feel forgotten and run over by politicians of both stripes. Democrats can rightly be accused of bringing too many thesauruses and Black’s Law Dictionaries to a knife fight both generally and in the impeachment.

                Democrats are still policy wonks. Republicans are story tellers and while their stories are full of lies and misdirection, they are the only stories out there and tug at emotions.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H says:

                The Republicans, every last one of them, made it crystal clear that there was no amount of evidence which would have changed their votes. They even came right out and said they believed he was guilty. So banging on for another month or three wouldn’t change things.

                And we knew this going in.

                The real trial here is American citizenry. We are being tested to see what we value and whether we want to keep the republic, or cringe and surrender.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                i agree about the trial of America’s citizenry, and if the polls on the need for witnesses and evidence are any indication, Republicans have a lot of explaining to do to way more then their base.

                That said – I believe that had Democrats actually laid it all out, and fought to enforce the subpoenas you would have seen a different outcome. McConnell wants to retain the Senate in Republican hands, and having to defend 15 articles (and most for obstruction) which are framed about lie endangering the Republic would make that tough. Having to watch the courts vindicate Congresses’ subpoena power would have been tough. and as more information comes out (which it will regardless) it becomes way more untennable for him to sit on his hands and keep running a show trial.

                My educated SWAG is if the subpoena fight had turned in the House’s favor McConnell would likely have moved to make the acquittal vote anonymous as it would have allowed the caucus to dump trump and still claim to be supporting his base.

                Problem is we will never know because, once again Democrats backed down from the fight. And that may work long run but I doubt it. Too many voters still want someone to appear to be fighting for them, and see Democrats as not fighting at all. Its no longer w inning strategy to be wonkishly right.Report

              • Urusigh in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                They could have not attempted impeachment. I rarely agree with anything said by Nancy Pelosi, but she was right when she said this:

                “I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.”

                There are many ways to describe the farce that occurred in the House, but neither the charges nor the “evidence” were ever “compelling and overwhelming” and the only bipartisanship demonstrated was the democrats who crossed the aisle to vote AGAINST the impeachment.

                She articulated a reasonable standard for impeachment. It wasn’t met, so impeachment shouldn’t have been attempted. What should have been done instead is push another Resolution of Condemnation or whatever. It might have actually gotten a few republican defections and then they could call it “bipartisan” in attack ads for the next year. Either way, move on to the Election. If they had done that, the senators running on their slate could have actually been in Iowa for the caucus nights. Trump wouldn’t get a narrative of being “totally exonerated” by an acquittal , R’s in general wouldn’t get the easy attack line of “Do Nothing Democrats” wasting public time and money on a partisan circus instead of passing legislation to address voter top concerns, and the Democrat candidates could have spent that time campaigning in battleground states.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Urusigh says:

                {{Mitt Romney said he’ll vote to convict.}}Report

              • Urusigh in reply to Stillwater says:

                Romney voted to convict on one charge and not the other. Democrats in the house provided two votes against on one charge and one vote against on the other. By my count that officially makes opposition to impeachment more bipartisan than support for it.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Urusigh says:

                One Senator is worth 4.35 House members, so … I mean, that’s just math.Report

              • Urusigh in reply to Stillwater says:

                An interesting perspective, but my math still holds up even so: I count 5 non-impeachment votes on the democrat side in the house (3 against and 2 present) and only 1 vote in favor on the republican side in the senate. 5 > 4.35 is also just math.

                You get a similar edge if you simply discount the contradictory votes (yes on one article, no on the other, or just “present”), in which case you have one democrat who voted against both and no republicans who voted in favor of both, still advantage republicans.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Urusigh says:

                Voting present doesn’t count.

                But consider this: Senators have 6 year terms, Reps only 2. THEREFORE, one senate vote is *actually* worth 13.05 House members votes. Plus, Senators make more money than Reps, by about 12%.

                My case keeps getting stronger!Report

              • George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

                Senators are just better people. They’re smarter, taller, and dress better.

                In contrast, you’ve got House members who are still trying to figure out how toilets and garbage disposals work. *glares at AOC*Report

              • Urusigh in reply to Stillwater says:

                Care to provide your source? A quick Google search says “The current salary for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.”

                A single senator makes 12% more than 4.35 Reps? Clearly not. If we’re going by total pay per side I think it’s the House votes that clearly come out ahead.

                “But consider this: Senators have 6 year terms, Reps only 2. THEREFORE, one senate vote is *actually* worth 13.05 House members votes.”

                Hahahahaha….oh, that’s funny. I like you. You do realize they’re still serving at the same time, casting a single vote on a matter that will not be repeated? Even if it somehow were, have you looked at the rates at which incumbents win? Let’s face it, 6 years from now it’s pretty much guaranteed those same people will still be in those same seats regardless of which chamber they’re in. Weel, not Romney, he killed his career.

                “Voting present doesn’t count.”

                Sure it does, there’s only two possible outcomes of an Impeachment Trial: Convicted or Acquitted. Any vote that doesn’t convict is de facto a vote to acquit. Presumption of Innocence and all that.Report

            • George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

              On the retail level, I think the Democrats committed multiple mistakes.

              The Republicans can go back to their constituents, both Democrats and Republicans, and explain that of course they weren’t going to vote to overturn the 2016 election, and rig the 2020 election by knocking a candidate off the ballot, right before the American people voted their preference once again.

              They can also discuss at length the complete lack of a crime, which left Democrat impeachment managers making up imaginary ones like “obstructing Congress”. They can ask Democrats how they’d fell if a Republican Congress had just made up a bunch of charges and removed Obama because they simply didn’t like him.

              Democratic congressmen are in a tougher position because with their vote to impeach, or their vote to remove, they have forever alienated all the Republicans and perhaps most of the moderates. They did try to undo a past election and rig the next one, and in Republican eyes are almost guilty of treason against the United States. They can’t convince Republican voters that there were clearly impeachable offenses because those constituents looked at the charges and laughed at the stupidity of them.

              They can’t explain to anyone why it was so critically important to remove Trump immediately because as soon as they impeached they took off for month, probably hanging out in the Bahamas, and second, their effort failed and we’re all still fine. Obviously things weren’t dire. The only conclusion is that they lied and they rushed, shooting themselves in both feet because they’ve got no sense, just feigned outrage.

              And, to their Democratic constituents, they also have the problem that they failed abysmally to remove Trump, yet also have to explain why they tried it with such a silly set of charges and such weak evidence. Could they even win a case against a ham sandwich?

              So at any town hall they go to, any Republican can toss out a question that they have no good answer for, and any Democrats can do the same, such as “Why did you vote for impeachment when you knew it couldn’t possibly remove him, and would just fire up Republicans?”

              Their failure likely de-energizes their base, brands them as traitors to Republican voters, and fired up those opposition voters to new levels of determination and activism. Looking back on their likely decision making that led them down this path, they got nothing from the “pro” column, and almost every downside from the “con” column is likely coming to pass.

              Sometimes the logic of “We all hang together or we’ll all hang separately” is that they all get hung together. Fortunately for them, most are in very safe districts and won’t have to worry about repercussions.

              It would be one thing if they fell into a clever trap set by Karl Rove, but this one was designed and built by their own hands, though perhaps with lots urging from morons in the media.Report

          • Aaron David in reply to Michael Siegel says:

            A) This was the impression of Cruz. I will take what the R’s (and D’s when it is their turn) say their reasoning was before anyone else’s on any given issue until it is proven demonstrably false.
            B) Politics can and does turn on a dime. Hearing a grossly stupid, false and demeaning question from the oppositon can and will sour people on all sorts of things. Politians are human before anything else and thus are susceptible to all of the same foibles as us normies.
            C) Stillwater covers the retail end of this pretty well, and I will add only one thing; it isn’t just Trump et al who is exposing the fissures in American Political Mythology, but Bernie as well. As we are seeing from that side of the aisle this election, sans the media attempt at gloating.Report

            • Philip H in reply to Aaron David says:

              I can agree with B and C. though I think the turn that some Republicans hoped for after Sen. Warren’s question was lost when Senators Alexander, Rubio, and Sasse came out and said “yeah he’s guilty, and wee basically knew it. But we aren’t going to do anything about it,’ well seasoned with Senator Ernst’s heaping helping of “Gee, I hope this all roils up the Iowa Caucuses” gravy, and topped off by Lisa Murkawski’s Really asinine “It’s not a fair trial and I can’t do anything either way to change it.” BS. Had any of them actually kept their mouth’s shut you might still have Sen. Warren to snipe at. Thankfully they let their ego’s get the better of them.Report