by Robert Romano
The Senate trial of former President Donald Trump will begin on Feb. 8, according to a joint agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The announcement came as 29 Senate Republicans and counting are already opposing the trial, which they say is unconstitutional since Trump is no longer in office, and comes as almost 9 out of 10 Republicans say they oppose convicting former President Trump in polls.
It is practically guaranteed that any Republican Senator who votes to convict Trump will eventually face a primary challenge.
And so, more than likely, Senate Democrats will not be able to find 67 votes to convict Trump, which would require 17 Senate Republicans to come on board.
Just like that, once again, Republican voters are unified. This time in opposition to impeachment.
Usually, after a new administration comes to power, it can take months before the opposition gets its act together and begins galvanizing its partisan base, usually leading to favorable outcomes in midterm elections for the party that lost the White House.
In fact, in midterm elections dating back to 1906 through 2018, the party that occupies the White House usually loses on average 31 seats in the House, and about three seats in the Senate. And that’s without any additional incentives. It’s enough that the party out of power will be more motivated to vote in the subsequent elections.
Which could mean House Democrats’ first act of office to impeach the former President — which is bringing Republican voters together and instantly activating them at a time when they might have been tuning out — might become one of the biggest historic blunders in U.S. political history.
It may well be that former President Donald Trump may be the gift that keeps giving — for Republicans. There will be backlash. Thanks to Democrats’ impeachment fever, the 2022 midterms could be Tee-Ball for the GOP.
Provided, of course, that Senate Republicans actually pay attention to what their own constituents are saying.
The case against impeachment is not hard to make. For starters, it is not even constitutional to hold a trial for “removal” after President Trump’s term will have already expired. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution states “The President… shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
And Article I, Section 3 states “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States…”
That is all inclusive. It only says a sitting president can be removed. There cannot be an impeachment of a former president, and there cannot be a removal of a former president who is already out of office. Meaning, Trump cannot be convicted, and so he certainly cannot then be disqualified from ever holding office again.
And then on the merits of the charge, “incitement of insurrection” for the speech Trump gave on Jan. 6 at the Save America Rally, there is no merit, no matter what occurred after the rally.
In fact, Trump explicitly urged those protesting the certification of the election results by Congress to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
Moreover, evidence is emerging that planning for the riot at the Capitol that followed the speech began days and weeks prior to the rally and was done on social media outlets like Facebook, according to Justice Department court filings. If the riot and attacking Capitol Police was premeditated and pre-planned, then it was not a spontaneous outcome of Trump’s speech.
Public support for the impeachment is already waning. A Reuters-Ipsos poll now finds 51 percent support convicting Trump—the slimmest of majorities. And that is down from 56 percent in an Ipsos poll just a week ago.
Where will public sentiment be on Feb. 8, almost a month into President Joe Biden’s term, let alone after the American people actually get to hear the defense mounted on behalf of former President Trump?
That’s right. The pendulum has not even swung yet. Americans have been fed just one side of this story for almost a month now about what happened at the Capitol. When they hear the other side of the story, they’re going to be angry, particularly when they learn that the violence was not a result of the speech, but of the actions multiple groups who pre-planned the riot.
In the eyes of Trump’s supporters, the Senate trial and the wave of Big Tech censorship against Trump and his supporters is not just about going after Trump and his allies. They think that it means they’re next.
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Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.