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Tomorrow, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will meet with her Democratic House Caucus to establish a timeline for delivering two articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump to the Senate. The House of Representatives formally impeached President Trump last month, but chances are high that even after the articles of impeachment arrive at the Senate, President Trump will remain in office.
That’s because not only is the Senate a Republican-controlled congressional chamber (unlike the House of Representatives, which impeached Trump), but because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has consistently worked alongside the White House to stall the impeachment inquiry. McConnell has said that he sees the ongoing impeachment process not as a fair trial into the alleged wrongdoings of the country’s leader, but as a needless political (instead of judicial) process.
Pelosi has said that McConnell’s actions and statements are covering up the president’s illegal actions. To her, if McConnell and other Republican senators attempt to block witness testimony or prevent a trial from happening, these politicians would be complicit in Trump’s alleged wrongdoings. McConnell has thus far refused to negotiate with Pelosi, so the Republican Senate Caucus might move forward in exactly the ways against which Pelosi is warning.
The House Democratic Caucus faces additional obstacles thanks to a resolution that McConnell recently signed. Introduced by Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), this resolution would effectively prevent the impeachment inquiry from moving forward in the Senate if the House Democratic Caucus does not transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate within 25 days of their adoption.
Although this deadline is just days away from being met, Pelosi remains undeterred. On a recent network news interview, Pelosi remained firm in her demands that McConnell permit witnesses to testify in the Senate impeachment trial and allow for the submission of additional documents as evidence in the trial. McConnell has continued to state that the Republican Senate Caucus will not use its power to put President Trump on trial.
Theoretically, the inability for the opposing political parties to meet halfway regarding impeachment puts the trial at an inescapable stalemate. Some commentators, however, point to another key figure as someone who can push the trial forward: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Though McConnell has shored up enough Republican support in the Senate to permanently stonewall an impeachment trial if he deems this necessary, Schumer has laid out a counteroffensive that he insists will cost vulnerable Republican senators votes in their elections this November.
Schumer and his fellow Democratic senators have publicly argued that, in the eyes of voters, any of the vulnerable Republican senators who side with Trump as the Republican Caucus blocks an impeachment trial risk being seen as obsequious to the president, thereby diminishing their standing at the polls. In light of this notion, Schumer has insisted that a growing number of Republicans have stated their support for obtaining more documents as evidence – the exact opposite of McConnell’s intended outcome. Although the sparring between the two parties may paint the impeachment trial as mere political theater with a predetermined outcome, perhaps surprises like this one from Schumer could lead to actionable outcomes.