Plot Twist: How Everyone Could Win in the Senate’s Failure to Convict

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If politics is mostly theater, here are a few plot twists I suspect are coming for “The Re-Impeachment.” Republicans in the Senate have figured out a sly way to deplore the Capitol Riot and Trump’s incitement but argue against impeachment on procedural grounds (unconstitutional to convict a President who has already left office). The test vote Rand Paul forced his week would indicate 45 of 50 Republican Senators are going to use this politically irresistible evasion. 

Hence my sly plot twist, which only becomes clear in the last act. Democrats get to have their Senate impeachment show trial, making more Republicans like the odious Cruz and Hawley and Cotton twist in the wind. In exchange, Senate Republicans get to protect their right flanks by voting against conviction and wrapping themselves in the Constitution.

And what about Republicans who want to dump Trump from further political office without getting any spots of blood on their hands? Aha! Democrats (maybe by a pre-arranged deal) then dust off Article 3 of the 14th Amendment, by voting 51-49 to preclude Trump from holding future office. Republicans deplore this dastardly deed loudly and crocodile-tearfully, indignantly deploring this devious maneuver and feigning fealty to the decapitated King. Everyone wins, including the martyred Donald. Only a Mitch McConnell could be this clever a playwright.

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David Brewster, a founding member of Post Alley, has a long career in publishing, having founded Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, and Crosscut.com. His civic ventures have been Town Hall Seattle and FolioSeattle.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Few people in the world are as eager to see Trump gone, while pretending the reverse, as Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Tim Cotten and their ilk. The problem for Democrats is that by clearing Trump off the board for those guys, they may unleash their worst fear: an ambitious amoral authoritarian who lacks Trump’s self-destructive ineptitude. Of course, those sinners also lack Trump’s feral political instincts. I expect that the Republicans would like to display their all-in loyalty to Trump and then have Cyrus Vance or Letitia James in New York get a felony conviction, which they can they bemoan while picking up the fallen torch (and pitchforks). Trump is worth more to Ted Cruz politically dead than alive. I would not be rest easy in that position.

  2. It looks like the Congressional Democrats are now looking for a way out of the impeachment quicksand, such as a censure or a get-it-over-with trial in the Senate. I suspect that my imagined 9-carom scenario has too many moving parts, too many opportunities to make this cigar explode. Here’s a Washington Post story looking at alternatives: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-consider-impeachment-alternatives-censure/2021/01/27/fdfd9b6c-60bd-11eb-afbe-9a11a127d146_story.html

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