The Impeachment Trial Finally Begins!

Donald Trump and Capitol Building

Highlights:
  • On Wednesday, January 15, the House voted to send two articles of impeachment to the Senate – prompting the starting of the trial.
  • The House of Representatives also approved seven Democratic impeachment managers, who will argue the case against President Trump: Reps. Jason Crow, Adam Schiff, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, and Sylvia Garcia.
  • On Thursday, House prosecutors recited the charges, and Chief Justice Roberts swore in the Senators with an oath of “impartial justice” as jurors.

So, it finally happened – and just as I suspected, the House of Representatives delivered the two articles of impeachment to the Senate a mere two weeks before the Iowa primary caucus.

But now is not the time for Democratic primary conspiracy theories; Donald J. Trump is officially the third sitting US President to have been impeached. A distinction that he shares only with Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

He will not be the last. For, however, solemn and honorable everyone is acting at the moment, this will one-hundred-percent now be a tradition every single time the Republican Party has control of the House in the foreseeable future.

Mark my words:
By 2036, it will be a mark of incredible diplomacy and bipartisanship to be the rare President who hasn’t been impeached. I don’t say that to make a statement about the validity or lack thereof of this case; it’s just an inevitability of the whole process having been so partisan from start to finish.

Democrats Finally Deliver the Articles of Impeachment

The House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump back on December 18, 2019, on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. However, the process came to an abrupt halt after passing the two articles.

Nancy Pelosi claimed that she needed to hold them until Democrats could ensure they’d receive a fair trial in the GOP-controlled Senate. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell never ended up budging on their demands, DNC members are happy with the results.

“It’s been very effective,” Adam Schiff said. “And as you’ve seen, additional evidence continues to come to light that not only has bolstered an already overwhelming case but has also put additional pressure … on the Senate to conduct a fair trial.”

It’s yet to be seen if Democrats will get the trial they’ve hoped for – the Senate will vote on whether to introduce new evidence and witness testimonies next week.

On Wednesday, the House voted to deliver the articles to the upper chamber once and for all and selected their seven impeachment managers, who will be responsible for prosecuting the President.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose:
Reps. Adam Schiff, Jason Crow, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, and Sylvia Garcia.

“The emphasis is on litigators; the emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom,” Pelosi told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday. “The emphasis is on making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our Constitution.”

Before delivering the articles by hand, Pelosi held a signing ceremony – with each signee using one of the dozen golden memorial pens the Speaker apparently had made for the occasion.

After the articles were signed, the Democrats began a slow, dramatic procession to the Senate, where they once again pretended to be solemn and forlorn during this “very serious” impeachment process.

Mitch McConnell was offended by the pens, saying, “Well, nothing says seriousness and sobriety like handing out souvenirs. As though this were a happy bill signing instead of the gravest process in our Constitution,” from the Senate floor.

PS
We’ve got to talk about Nancy Pelosi and our politicians; they are the biggest cornballs in the world. I know she’s everybody’s hero right now for leading the impeachment charge, and I honestly hope the whole thing has been cathartic for you, but my god are they melodramatic and goofy.

If you haven’t yet, go watch this molasses-paced Game of Thrones procession march to the Senate. Then there was the day they voted on the articles back in December, and everyone was pretending to be extra serious and sad – except for whoever accidentally cheered and got a scolding from Nancy.

Honestly, it makes me wonder how much of what’s going on in DC is just theater. We are ruled by the corniest people on earth!

Swearing In and More Waiting

At noon on Thursday, the House impeachment managers exhibited their articles of impeachment. Once that was done, Chief Justice Roberts showed up and was sworn in to preside over the trial. With that finished, Roberts then swore in all of the 100 Senators who pledged to uphold “impartial justice”.

Good luck with that one. If every vote continues right down along party lines, is that not an admission that the oath was broken?

I suspect it is a point that will come up as soon as the Republicans start throwing their majority around with all of the leverage Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were worried about from the start. With another day of useless pageantry out of the way, our elected officials went home for the long weekend. The real trial won’t start until Tuesday.

Lev Parnas & the Fight Over New Evidence and Witnesses

When they do get back next week, the focus will return to whether or not to allow new witnesses. Technically, the Senate is holding a trial based on the articles of impeachment that were already passed, which means analyzing the information upon which that vote was made.

However, in what I’m sure was just fortunate timing, new revelations were recently made by a man named Lev Parnas, during a multi-part sitdown interview with Rachel Maddow. Parnas, a close associate of Rudy Giuliani, handed over a trove of information relating to the administration’s dealings with Ukraine.

The documents allegedly prove that Trump was complicit in the campaign to pressure the foreign country.

Now, a debate is raging over whether to include these new documents in the trial. Republicans are resisting introducing new evidence for now. “If the existing case is strong, there’s no need for the judge and the jury to reopen the investigation,” said McConnell. “If the existing case is weak, House Democrats should not have impeached in the first place.”

Not all Republicans feel the same way as the Majority Leader.

“While I need to hear the case argued, and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful. It is likely that I would support a motion to call witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999,” argued Senator Susan Collins, when asked about Lev Parna’s evidence.

“It sounds like a decision the chief justice and the Senate may have to make,” said Roy Blunt, the Republican chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. “My initial view of the evidence last night is, there’s nothing much there that hasn’t been already acknowledged by either the president or Mr. Giuliani,” he added.

Meanwhile, any new information introduced into the trial for the prosecution could come at a cost to the Democrats. Once you’ve opened the door to additional evidence and testimonies, the Republicans are going to want to interrogate a few high-profile witnesses of their own – namely Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, the whistleblower, and who knows who else.

“I agree the president’s defense lawyers should have the opportunity to suggest witnesses that need to be called,” said Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. However, he wasn’t as supportive of Trump’s team getting the Biden’s involved.

“I think that we recognize bringing in Hunter Biden has no relevancy to the articles of impeachment. It would try to distract — I’m not sure that’s helpful for trial. I’d like to see the President’s lawyers make the relevancy argument.”

A “Relevancy” Argument

Here’s the problem for the Democrats:
The defense should have the votes in the Senate to approve whatever witnesses they want once that door is opened for new evidence and testimonies. What happens if they try to argue that the White House withheld aid because they were worried the new Ukrainian administration was corrupt?

They point out that Joe Biden bragged about getting the previous special investigator — who was looking into his son’s relationship with Burisma – fired and say they had to use back channels to coordinate with Ukraine because they couldn’t trust official channels — especially after the top intelligence officers had already begun leaking stuff about the President as soon as he was elected.

I’m not saying this is what I believe, but I could definitely twist a tale that justifies calling on both Biden’s and the whistleblower to testify. I never really understood why everyone just accepted that Hunter’s relationship with that company was legitimate in the first place.

In every article, they just say any accusations of wrongdoing were debunked, like it’s a given, without ever explaining how. I want to know how that guy – with a history of serious drug and alcohol problems — who was banging his brother’s widow, was qualified for that job. If he was, and I missed something, fair enough – I apologize.

This is where I hate how tribalistic politics have become, because I know it’s controversial even to ask any of these questions.

You can claim the Biden’s have no relevance to the impeachment trial, but sure they do – they’re at the center of the whole thing. That’s who the administration got caught digging for dirt on when they broke the rules that got the President impeached.

What happens if the Republicans can prove something shady was going on with the firing of the Ukrainian special investigator (who everyone just accepts as being corrupt; again – because the media told them so) and that Burisma was enjoying special access to the US government while Joe was VP and Hunter Biden was on their board?

I mean, even the most partisan pundits have admitted letting your family members hold such a position when you’re the Vice President looks really bad. And, by the way, it doesn’t have to be one side is right, and the other is wrong.

Maybe Trump was trying to interfere with the elections, but the Biden’s were really up to some dirt at the same time. How often is there really a “good guy” in these Washington DC stories, especially with the political lifers?

Does that change the complexion of Donald Trump’s crimes?

To be honest, I need to do more research on this topic and can tell that merely asking these questions is enough to piss people off. But my main point is: one can create a justification for making Hunter – and maybe even Joe – Biden testify if they try hard enough; so, you better be sure whatever you’re getting from Bolton or Mulvaney is worth it.

The Democrats want to frame this impeachment trial as Donald Trump targeted Joe Biden because he’s scared to run against him for reelection. It seems to me, if you could prove that the former VP or his family were doing anything shady, then the conversation isn’t about withholding aid for personal gain anymore, it’s about “draining the swamp” as promised.

Again, I’m not saying that’s what happened – just that it would be an easy sell to his constituents. So, the Democrats better either be sure the Biden’s are squeaky clean before they go this route, or that they’re able to ensure neither of them sees the Senate floor while the trial is ongoing.

The Democrats might not want to hear that “relevancy” argument as much as they think they do.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Pulled from Campaign Trail

Another fascinating angle to all of this is the havoc it is causing Democratic primary campaigns. While the trial goes on, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar are obligated to be on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. That’s obviously not ideal for the candidates, with the Iowa caucus right around the corner.

I would rather be in Iowa today. There’s a caucus there in two-and-a-half weeks. I’d rather be in New Hampshire and Nevada and so forth. But I swore a constitutional oath as a United States senator to do my job, and I’m here to do my job,” said Bernie Sanders.

Adding, “While we go forward with this impeachment trial, I hope the American people understand that we have not forgotten that in this country, outside of Washington, DC, today, there are millions of people who are struggling economically, millions of people who cannot afford their prescription drugs or their health care.

Depending on how this trial plays out, I have to wonder if the long delay delivering the articles of impeachment had more to do with sidelining a surging Bernie Sanders campaign than forcing a fair trial. Because, after holding them all that time, there’s still no guarantee that Mitch McConnell is going to play along.

If new witnesses are allowed, and this trial is dragged out for several weeks, yet Joe and Hunter Biden are never called to testify, I’m calling conspiracy. That would be too perfect for the DNC, just as Senator Sanders was starting to pass their beloved frontrunner in the polls. If the Republicans either wrap this trial up quickly or Joe is eventually called to Washington DC too, I’ll be a bit less cynical.

Could Trump Be Removed from Office?

Even when the House was deciding whether to deliver the articles of impeachment, the votes were made along party lines. To date, almost nobody has broken rank – and no Republicans have.

Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” on the initial impeachment vote, and Democrat Representative Collin Peterson voted “no” on both impeachment and delivering the articles on Wednesday; otherwise, it’s been entirely partisan.

So, it’s hard to imagine where the Democrats are going to find the required 67 votes to remove Trump from office when there are 53 Republicans in the Senate and another three Democrats in swing states who may not want to cross their right-wing electorate back home.

At the end of the day, this whole dog and pony show appears to have a predetermined outcome.

Unless…

Mike Pence has been orchestrating a stone-cold “House of Cards” maneuver behind the scenes all along! What if he’s already found the votes to remove Trump from office and is just luring the President into a false sense of security before he strikes?!

He pushes his co-conspirators to introduce new witnesses and uses the opportunity to knock off Biden while holding Bernie in limbo. All the while, Mayor Pete is racking up nearly-uncontested early primary wins.

Then, when it’s time to vote on a verdict – BAM! — over 20 Republicans execute the ultimate betrayal, convicting Donald Trump of his crimes.

Pence pretends to be outraged that they’d do such a thing and promises the electorate that if he’s reelected, he’ll exact his revenge on the GOP. The former VP goes on to soundly defeat Buttigieg in the general election and becomes President for the next four years!

Mind. Blown.

That’s some straight-up Kevin Spacey “kill them with kindness” stuff.

Just in case:

You can bet Mike Pence at +1800 odds to be the next Republican nominee and +10000 to be the next President. Might be worth a flier?
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Will Cormier / Author

Will Cormier is a sports and political betting writer living in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. When he’s not wandering around the streets of the Arts District aimlessly, a lifetime of pessimism and paranoia has made Will perfectly suited for handicapping politics. Cormier tries to analyze current events as objectively as possible – a strategy that often enrages loyalists on both the right and the left. When he’s not covering major upcoming elections, Will enjoys writing about basketball, football, and MMA from a betting perspective. He also loves dogs, ice cream sundaes, the movie “Stomp the Yard,” and long walks on the beach.

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