It’s all fun and games until it gets to the Senate. House Republicans have truly done their best to make the impeachment inquiry a spectacle, and to their credit, they did make a spectacle — just not the one they were hoping. House Republicans have not been trying to mitigate Trump’s mess in any meaningful way. Trump being Trump, preferring kabuki theater to substance, mostly seemed to go along with this. In Trump’s mind: “as long as they’re out there distracting the media from me, who cares what they do?” But now, things are about to get hairy.
The House of Representatives will vote to impeach Trump. That’s just a fact. It’ll almost certainly be down party lines, and perhaps a small handful of Democrats in typically red districts will vote with the Republicans, but the House will vote to impeach Trump. Next step: Senate, and Senate Republicans are not prepared to make asses of themselves the way the House Republicans did (and will surely continue to do).
Just this week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that the House will begin drafting the articles of impeachment for the Great Orange One. Also this week, Politico reported the following about the Senate Republicans:
“Senate GOP leaders have signaled they intend to defend Trump wholeheartedly, but they’re also loath to let the upper chamber descend into chaos or divide their caucus ahead of a tough 2020 cycle. … Calling controversial witnesses will require near lockstep party unity from 51 of the 53 Senate Republicans to make any procedural maneuvers, a tough task given the diverse views in the GOP, according to senators and aides. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has privately urged senators to avoid divisive votes on impeachment motions, and other senators are eager to ensure that the GOP doesn’t lose votes — or control of a trial in their own chamber.”
McConnell playing it safe like this says a lot about how seriously he intends to take the Senate’s role in impeachment and gives a strong indication as to just how much backlash we can expect him to get from Trump (hint: a lot). McConnell is fully aware that the Senate might just go blue next year; his seat included. While many Americans seem to have impeachment fatigue and it’s still a divisive issue (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/what-voters-across-america-are-saying-about-impeachment), many too tack Trump’s heinous behavior down-ballot. The Senate majority thus has no option but to play by the rules more than they probably anticipated. From today, at least, it’s beginning to really look like Pelosi and crew are calling McConnell’s bluff—and he’s sweating.