WASHINGTON, DC — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) argued on Tuesday that a refusal by the Senate to agree to Democrats’ demand to allow new witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial without a vote would deem President Donald Trump guilty regardless of the verdict.
In other words, if the Republican-led Senate does not carry out the impeachment trial the way the Democrats want it to, Trump will be considered guilty even if the upper chamber acquits him. A guilty verdict in the Senate would remove Trump from office.
Schiff told reporters:
If the Senate and the senate leadership … will not allow the calling of witnesses or the presentation of documents, If [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell makes this the first impeachment trial in history without witnesses or documents, it will not prove the president innocent. It will merely prove the Senate guilty of working with the president to obstruct the truth from coming out, so I do think that by structuring the trial this way, it furthers our case that what’s going on here really is a cover-up of evidence to the American people.
While McConnell says his newly unveiled resolution outlining the rules that will govern the Senate trial makes the process fair, Schiff argues otherwise, saying the guidelines “make it impossible to hear a fair trial.”
The Senate, nevertheless, is expected to approve the resolution.
Speaking from the Senate’s floor on Tuesday, McConnell noted that the resolution that lays out the rules for how Senators will carry out the impeachment trial allows for a vote on whether both parties can introduce new evidence and witnesses.
McConnell made it clear that he will not pre-commit to allowing new evidence before hearing the Democrats’ arguments for convicting Trump. Moreover, he acknowledged that no one pushed the House’s hand to rush the impeachment inquiry, noting that they could have waited for more evidence if they thought it necessary.
McConnell stressed that the GOP-led Senate would not do the Democrat-controlled House’s investigation.
Key congressmen have recently threatened to call new witnesses to testify in the House if the Senate does take their deposition. They have also said they are continuing with their impeachment inquiry. Their comments came after House Democrats transmitted the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — to the Senate, a move that is supposed to end the House’s role in the impeachment process.
Support for impeaching President Donald Trump has collapsed among Hispanic and black voters—a situation that could doom Democrats in 2020.
A recent national poll released by Emerson College indicates that black Americans, a key constituency of the Democrat Party, narrowly opposes Trump’s impeachment. The poll found that 38 percent of black voters are opposed, while 37 percent are in favor, with 25 percent unsure.
Hispanic voters, meanwhile, were only narrowly in favor of impeachment, 48 percent to 41 percent, with 11 percent unsure. The Emerson poll also found 48 percent of white voters nationally were opposed to impeaching Trump, while 44 percent were supportive.
The results are starkly different from those recorded nationally by Emerson in October. At the time, 58 percent of black voters were in favor of impeaching Trump compared to only 27 percent against and 15 percent unsure. Likewise, 73 percent of Hispanics favored the president’s impeachment in October, while 24 percent were opposed and only 3 percent.
Overall, between the two surveys, support for impeaching Trump dropped 20 percent among black voters and 25 percent with Hispanics. The drops have been accompanied by nearly double digit increases among voters from the two communities telling pollsters they were unsure if Trump’s impeachment was the best recourse.
The polling seems to indicate the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, which began televised public hearings this month, has backfired tremendously. When the inquiry first launched, Democrats were eager to prove Trump committed an impeachable offense by suggesting the government of Ukraine investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings within the country.
Right out of the gate, though, the effort was hamstrung by the unwillingness of Democrat leadership, particularly Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), to grant Republicans equal questioning time and subpoena power. With Democrats unwilling to give Republicans appropriate say in the proceedings, the vote formalizing the inquiry was conducted on party lines, thereby dooming any hopes of bipartisan respectability.
Congressional Democrats were further hampered by their own star witnesses, nearly all of whom admitted under oath that Hunter Biden’s wheeling and dealing in Ukraine had the appearance of a conflict of interest for his father, former Vice President Joe Biden.
One of the witnesses, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, even admitted on the opening day of the inquiry that he was so troubled by the younger Biden’s decision to join the board of Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma —while his father was overseeing Obama-era policy in the region—that he felt compelled to reach out to the former vice president’s office about the matter in 2015.
The televised hearings seemed to have the exact opposite impact Democrats were hoping to achieve when they first launched the inquiry. Although the Emerson poll did not ask why black and Hispanic voters had changed their minds on impeachment, the rates at which they were following the inquiry hearings could pose an answer.
According to the poll, black Americans were more intently following the impeachment hearings unfolding on Capitol Hill than either whites or Hispanics. Of the black voters surveyed, 73 percent told pollsters they were “watching” the impeachment hearings, compared to only 27 percent who said they were not. Similarly, 70 percent of whites said they were following the hearings, while 29 percent were not. Among Hispanics, the figure was slightly lower, with 60 percent saying they were watching the hearings and 40 percent admitting they were not. The lower level of viewership could be the reason why Hispanics overall still tend to narrowly approve of Trump’s impeachment.
Regardless of the reasoning support for impeachment has dropped, the end result could prove dire for Democrats heading into next year’s presidential election.
In 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received 88 percent of the African American vote, as shown by exit polling data from the race. The numbers, although impressive, were significantly lower than the 93 percent Obama garnered in his successful 2012 reelection campaign. Political scientists have attempted to explain the discrepancy by pointing out that overall turnout among black voters was lower in 2016 than 2012. Few, however, have mentioned that Trump’s share of the African American vote was greater than Romney’s, as denoted by the Roper Center for Public Opinion at Cornell University. In fact, the 2016 GOP ticket headed by Trump garnered the highest percentage of black voters since 2004.
Trump’s improved margins among African American voters in heavily urban areas played no small part in his victory. Data from the Michigan secretary of state’s office indicate Trump received 15,000 more votes in Wayne County—where Detroit is located—than Romney in 2012. Even though Trump still lost the county by a substantial margin, the increase helped him eke out a win over Clinton statewide by more than 10,000 votes.
A similar situation played out with Hispanic voters in 2016, but to a lesser degree. Trump won 29 percent of the Hispanic vote on his way to the White House, rising higher than Romney’s 27 percent in 2012. The result shocked many in the media establishment, especially as Trump had run hard on cracking down on illegal immigration and building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
If Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) were to move forward with impeachment, Trump’s numbers with the minority voters could surpass his 2016 margins, provided the findings of the Emerson poll hold. In that instance, Democrats would forfeit any opportunity of pulling states like Michigan back into their column and could even jeopardize their chances in jurisdictions with heavy Hispanic populations, like New Mexico and Colorado.
Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), the vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, likely had this notion in mind on Monday when suggesting the House abandon its push to impeach Trump and settle for “censure.”
“We are so close to an election,” Lawrence told a local Michigan radio station. “I will tell you, sitting here knowing how divided this country is, I don’t see the value of taking him out of office. I do see the value of putting down a marker saying his behavior is not acceptable.”