On Wednesday, January 13th Donald Trump was impeached a second time. The charge was Incitement of Insurrection. The evidence was not only clear and convincing, the intended victims of this attack were the very lawmakers who voted to impeach him. The only reason the number of lawmakers who voted to impeach was not higher, was because many Republicans in the House feared for their lives and their family’s safety if they voted to impeach Trump. (They were getting death threats from Trump’s supporters.) The final vote to impeach was 232 to 197. 10 brave Republicans joined the Democrats, making this impeachment bipartisan. Even with only 10 Republicans, this was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in the history of our country.
The next phase is the trial in the Senate. Mitch McConnell is still in control of the Senate until January 20th. McConnell let it be known that he is at least impeachment curious this time and will “listen to the evidence”. That is a signal to his caucus that he might be open to voting to convict. For Mitch the decision will depend on the political calculation for him to regain control in the Senate. If that means getting rid of Trump to reboot the GOP, that will be his North Star. If Trump were to retain power by reason of his base forcing lawmakers to stay loyal to Trump, Mitch would recalculate his path to regain power in the Senate. Mitch is delaying the trial until the Democrats take control of Congress so that he can see which way the wind is blowing and avoid being blamed for the outcome.
Trump is Already Losing Power and So is the GOP
Even now the wind is blowing against Trump and Trump aligned Republicans. Corporations cannot side with a would-be white supremacist dictator in America. Too many of their customers are people of color these days and too many of their workforce are people of color.
Corporate donors are rapidly pulling away from Trump and refusing to donate to the 147 insurrectionist Republican lawmakers who supported the BIG LIE that Trump won when he lost in a free and fair election.
Trump’s approval rating has FINALLY gone below 30% to 29%. Unless the GOP breaks from Trump they will lose power with him.
Trump will lose more power with a majority of Americans as new, shocking video content from the cell phones of people who invaded the Capitol is exposed to the public. It is said to be horrible, shocking, and nauseating. Trump supporters beating Capitol police after they are on the ground, hitting them over and over again, clearly intending to kill or maim them. It is amazing that more people did not die. We have not yet heard about the injuries to the Capitol Police who fought to protect lawmakers from Trump’s mob. But we will and it won’t be pretty. That will turn off more people in corporate America including corporate donors.
Money speaks. Mitch will have to listen.
Democratic lawmakers have asked for an investigation that could expose a number of Republican members of Congress who may have been in on the planning of the assault. The day before the assault as yet unidentified Republican lawmakers and their aides brought in groups of “tourists” and led them through the Capitol. This was very likely a reconnaissance mission meant to show these people the location of offices of lawmakers they would attack. I expect we will learn that these “tourists” were the people who came back the next day to lead groups of insurrectionists into Congress to carry out their deadly mission. Insurrectionist Republicans will need to be expelled from office. They are some of those same members of the House who voted against democracy.
As more of this information comes out, which it will, Trump will lose more and more of his support. Even now the PGA will not hold its tournament at a Trump property. Deutsche Bank has dropped him as a client. Trump is said to be alone in the White House, fuming, with only a handful of aides left.
I believe Trump will be left with nothing but the Proud Boys and white supremacists supporting him at the end of the day. Once he is no longer president, he will not have the power to make corporations happy or get the 1% get more tax breaks. He will be abandoned by the rich, well-connected people who used him to get what they wanted when he was president.
Trump’s prestige luxury brand is dead. No one will want his toxic brand on their buildings. That has been his source of money along with money laundering for the Russian mob. Trump’s brand will forever be connected with the riot, the bloodshed, the viciousness of the mob he unleashed on Congress that was hell bent on killing his vice president, Mike Pence and other lawmakers. Trump aligned himself with domestic terrorists. It will be his legacy.
He has ruined his brand which is kinda ironic because he ran for president to enhance his brand.
What Will the Delay of the Impeachment Trial Do to the Outcome?
After January 20th, the Senate power shifts. Schumer becomes the leader. Trump will be out of power. Biden takes charge of the executive branch. The Senate can approve Biden’s cabinet in the morning and in the afternoon they can have the impeachment trial. That’s the plan.
I do not think it hurts one bit to delay and draw out the impeachment trial in the Senate. In fact, it could help to convict Trump. As Biden takes charge and the Senate trial gets going, the contrast between Biden and Trump will hasten Trump’s decline further below the 29% low water mark where it is today.
There is a fast-moving investigation of the attack on Congress by the newly formed US Attorney’s task force on sedition. Trump supporters who participated in the assault are getting lawyers and turning themselves in to the FBI to try to get more lenient sentences. These people will be charged with misdemeanors and in exchange for information about who was in charge of the attack and how they organized. Their cell phones contain damaging video evidence that will be used to identify the ringleaders and form the basis for charges. I bet there was some level of coordination between the organizers and Trump himself. This is Trump’s mob boss MO. We have seen this show before. With Trump out of power, his ability to suppress the evidence and obstruct justice as he did with the Mueller investigation will be crippled.
Even if the trial takes place significantly after January 20th, that’s okay. More evidence will have come out to the public by then. Trump has lost his megaphone. His Twitter account has been permanently closed. (Facebook MUST do the same!! Trump needs to be totally cut out of social media forever!) Even if Trump finds another way to have a voice, he will have less of a voice and less of a following once he no longer has the power of the presidency. As time goes on, more people who voted for Trump will decide he wasn’t really such a great guy after all. That disillusionment is already happening with many of his voters who are outside of Trump’s cult. They are shocked by the assault on what most Americans respect and revere- our Capitol. Most Americans are not insurrectionists.
As large companies halt their political contributions to Republicans, Senate Republicans will be under pressure to vote to convict Trump instead of standing by him to show that they have rejected him. Corporate donor money is the lifeblood of Republicans. They cannot lose their donors. As time goes on, Trump should pose less of a direct threat to Senators as other Republicans realize they can safely distance themselves from Trump without consequences. The more he recedes, the easier it should be for Republican senators to vote to convict him.
Conviction in the Senate is one way to be certain that Trump would be disqualified from running for office again. Without a bar to running again, Trump could maintain his grip on the GOP. Mitch has already noted publicly that conviction and disqualification might be the best way to scrub the GOP clean of toxic Trump. It is the best chance the GOP has to remake itself. The party needs a clean break if it hopes to survive as a viable party.
There is another potential way to disqualify Trump from holding future office. That is section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
The requirements for applying Section 3 are clear cut: (1) a previous oath to support the Constitution; (2) participation in “insurrection or rebellion” or provided “aid or comfort” to the Constitution’s enemies, and (3) a simple majority vote by each house of Congress.
Either a Senate conviction or bar to future office using the 14th Amendment would damage Trump’s power with his Q’Anon cult since their story line mythology was that Trump is so smart and masterful that he would find a way to win the 2020 election he lost. A great reckoning was coming in which Trump would emerge victorious. The attack on the Capitol was going to be that glorious victory for Trump. Many of the crazy people who attacked the Capitol thought they were helping Trump achieve that goal. Their assault on the Capitol was what Trump’s called them to do as their messianic leader. (I am not kidding here. This is what many of these Trump supporters thought.)
Can Trump be Tried in the Senate After He Leaves Office?
The answer is yes. There is precedent for both impeachment and conviction after leaving office. In this case Trump is already impeached by the House and the trial phase is the continuation of the process.
Though there is no precedent with a president, the House did impeach former War Secretary William Belknap on five articles of impeachment in 1876 after his resignation. A majority voted to convict Belknap in the Senate, but a supermajority was not achieved, and he was acquitted.
The Constitution does not dictate when the trial in the Senate must take place. A delay in the trial by the Senate would not be a bar to conviction and might help to get more senators on board to convict. If every senator is present for that vote it would take 17 of them to convict.
But there is another option.
If many Republican Senators still cannot stomach voting to convict Trump on the day of that vote, they could decide to simply not to show up for the final vote. As long as there is a quorum in the Senate, the vote to convict only needs to be 2/3 of the Senators present (not 2/3 of all the Senators). If 20 Republican Senators chose not to be present the day of the vote, I think only 3 or 4 Republican senators would be needed to vote with the Democrats to get a conviction. Let’s see…Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Pat Toomey, and Ben Sasse. That would do the trick.
Given the situation, I wonder if Mitch might let 20 or so Republican senators in red states know that they have the option to stay away for the final vote, paving the way for conviction.
Once Trump is convicted two more good things would happen:
1) Trump would be disqualified from ever holding office again (that takes only a majority vote.)
2) And Trump would lose the multimillion dollar benefits granted to former presidents: pension, staff and office expenses, medical care or health insurance, and Secret Service protection.
A majority of Americans and American companies will want these two results.