According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (and a Republican memo floating around Washington), Congress’s upper chamber will have no choice but to “immediately go into a trial” if the House of Representatives refers articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. This no doubt made some surprised and happy chuckling over on the Democrat side of the aisle, where the best Nancy Pelosi & Friends can hope for is that they can get Republican leaders to take their political shenanigans seriously. While there is little suspense over whether or not the GOP-led Senate would ever convict Trump of these fictional crimes, for McConnell to even treat them as if they deserved gravity is a win for the Democrats.
But do they really have no choice?
Over at the American Spectator, David Catron argues that McConnell doesn’t need to give this witch hunt a trial at all.
“The Senate isn’t required to try the President,” Catron writes. “That chamber possesses the ‘sole power to try all impeachments,’ but is under no constitutional obligation to do so. The Democrats ignored House precedent and longstanding tradition to launch their ‘impeachment inquiry.’ Why should Senate Republicans consider themselves bound by precedent and procedural rules where the trial is concerned?”
The man has a point.
After all, it’s not like the word “impeachment” suddenly just materialized out of nowhere. Rep. Al Green (D-TX) was on the House floor in May 2017 – only four months after Trump took office – to push his party towards impeachment proceedings.
Even before that, on the very day of Trump’s inauguration, liberal groups Free Speech for the People and RootsAction launched an impeachment website aimed at drumming up popular support for the president’s ousting.
In May, after fired FBI Director James Comey said that Trump advised him to steer clear of Michael Flynn, the New York Times wrote up a whole big story about the process of impeaching the president and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) tweeted: “Asking F.B.I. to drop an investigation is obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense.”
In November of that year, Green was at it again, introducing a resolution of impeachment for the first (but not the last) time: “Donald John Trump has, by his statements, brought the high office of President of the United States in contempt, ridicule, disgrace and disrepute, has sown discord among the people of the United States, has demonstrated that he is unfit to be President, has betrayed his trust as President the United States to the manifest injury of the people of the United States, and has committed a high misdemeanor in office.”
Even at that early date, he managed to get support of 58 fellow Democrats who wanted to see debate move to the floor of the House.
Folks, this has absolutely nothing to do with Ukraine.
“The latest Democratic impeachment parody is pathetic,” Catron concludes. “If Democrats ever manage to produce articles of impeachment, the Senate shouldn’t dignify them with a trial.”