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Will Democrats Pursue An Asterisk Impeachment?

Mitch McConnell

On Monday, a new concept was floated in the media addressing how Democrats might extricate themselves from their shambolic farce of an impeachment. The problem, you see, is that as soon they undertake the solemn and sad duty of impeaching President Trump the whole process moves to the Senate, where Republicans will control the process and almost certainly hand Trump a big victory.

But wait, not so fast: What if, this idea postulates, the House impeaches the president but does not send their case to the Senate?

This does seem to be an actual option for House Democrats. Basically, they would pass the articles of impeachment, technically making Trump on the third president to don that dubious mantle, but then just slam the brakes and take no action to move it to the Senate for trial.

Let’s be serious for a moment. If the Democrats impeach, but refuse to send the articles to the Senate for a trial, then the black mark against Trump of  this impeachment imprint will carry a massive, glowing asterisk.

Impeachment has a purpose. It is the first step in removing a sitting president of the United States. The framers of the Constitution never planned that impeachment would be used as a political ploy, divorced from the very reason it exists, to punish a president in the eyes of the public and history without any intention of removing him from office. Frankly, that is what censure, not impeachment, is for.

Now, Democrats and their media allies will argue that they simply cannot send articles of impeachment to a Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he will work with the White House and in which the process will not be fair. Let’s set aside the abject hilarity of Democrats suddenly being the people outraged by process after falsely accusing Republicans of that for weeks. The party of Pelosi has been saying over and over that their charges have already been unequivocally proven.

What was supposed to happen from the Democrats’ point of view was that a case so powerful would be made against Trump that in the Senate, either they would sway some Romney-style Republicans, or that Republicans voting to acquit would be bathed in some sort of shame that hurt their future political chances. That is not what happened. The Democrats got a sugar high in impeachment polling when the Ukraine story broke, stepped on the gas, then found out the tank was out fuel.

Impeaching Trump and refusing to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate would be an absolute joke without a punchline. Mr. Magoo could see through the cynicism of it; the American people and history certainly will.

But it is interesting to see the notion being given some purchase, particularly by some in the Never Trump conservasphere. They know what’s coming. They know what McConnell is capable of. They know the case against the president is not strong enough, and they know it will never get there.

There seems to be genuine disagreement among Republicans about whether a short or long trial in the Senate would help Trump more. Do you wave this away as illegitimate nonsense? Or do you tackle the facts, including those involving Hunter and Joe Biden and run a rousing and robust defense? There are good arguments on both sides. There is no argument to make that a Senate trial helps the Democrats, hence this idea of pulling Trump’s pigtails and then running home before the principal finds out.

If the Democrats take this path, it will and must be viewed as complete surrender. It would prove impeachment to be a classic case of “I started something but now I’m not so sure.” I predicted some weeks ago that Trump would not be impeached, that it would just be too politically disastrous for Democrats. It appears I was wrong — at least about the final result. But the fact that this idea of not sending articles to the Senate is even being considered speaks to the underlying issues I saw.

A Senate trial will be a coronation of Trump’s innocence, the cleanest and clearest victory of his presidency. It is obvious why Democrats don’t want that to happen. This is why people say you should be careful what you wish for. One day you might just get it, and get it good.