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.
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — On Thursday, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, was on the campaign trail in his state’s Tennessee Valley, catching up with voters and local officials about the issues of the day.
Of notable importance was the House of Representatives’ passage of two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump a day earlier.
In comments given to Breitbart News, the former U.S. Senator and Attorney General criticized the House of Representatives’ effort on the grounds of substance and called it a “dramatic abuse” by the body.
“I think it has just been shocking to most Americans to see how little substance this is,” he said. “It’s like, is this all there is? After all these vicious charges against the president, it comes down to these vague charges of abuse and obstruction? What does that mean? I think it’s a dramatic abuse by the House of Representatives of the impeachment clause in the Constitution. And it’s not anything the House says it is. Some have tried to say that. But in truth, the Constitution says treason, bribery, high crimes, and misdemeanors. Those mean something. It means something other than we had a disagreement with you, and now we’re going to impeach you. This was a horrible, improper act, in my opinion.”
The former U.S. Attorney General also weighed in on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refusal at the moment to transfer the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate, where a trial would take place. He said that gesture from Pelosi showed a lack of confidence in the two articles.
“I think there’s no doubt they don’t have confidence in them,” Sessions explained. “They’re not able to defend the charges. You had Professor [Jonathan] Turley, who I have gotten to know, Ken Starr, who is a great lawyer, being a law school dean and was a Clinton special prosecutor, but he says it is nowhere close to impeachable offenses. And Professor Turley does, too. He says it would be the least supported impeachment charge ever in our nation’s history. I’m totally in accord with that. Not sending it over is to me a clear indication that they’re not proud of their work. I said some weeks ago it looked like they were going to force this thing through and slink away, and hope it goes away. They know it doesn’t have legs in the Senate.”
Sessions did not have a recommendation as to whether or not witnesses should be called in the Senate trial. But he added that he did not think witnesses were necessary and pointed out that witnesses were not called in the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton in 1999.
“In my opinion, there’s so little substance in this impeachment charge that calling witnesses is not required to fulfill the responsibility of the Senate,” he said. “But I know Sen. McConnell and the White House are talking about that question. I won’t make a recommendation as to what they should do. I think they should think it through, and I think they probably should reach a good decision. I don’t think it’s required. We didn’t do witnesses on Clinton. With Clinton, there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt — all the elements of three different crimes. There’s no crime really charged here. The charges are vague, and they support impeachment for almost anything Congress wanted to do in the future if this is sustained.”
Sessions is the apparent front-runner in a crowded field for the seat he held for 20 years before accepting President Donald Trump’s appointment to serve as U.S. Attorney General. Sessions faces former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R) for the opportunity to run against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) next November.
On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to recuse himself from the Senate’s impeachment trial.
Bass said, “The leader of the Senate has basically said he is in lockstep, and he is going to coordinate with the defendant. And so, if you can imagine going into a courtroom in a trial and the foreman of the jury says, well, I’m working with the person that’s being accused of the crime. And so, it’s completely inappropriate. McConnell should recuse himself. … How can a juror coordinate with the defendant? That is corrupt.”
Democrats are expecting wide-scale defections among their rank and file when Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump come to the floor for a vote next week, the Washington Post reports.
the Washington Post’s Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis wrote late Wednesday:
House Democratic leaders are bracing for some defections among a group of moderate Democrats in swing districts who are concerned a vote to impeach President Trump could cost them their seats in November.
Bade and DeBonis quote three senior House Democrat officials saying that there will be at least a half dozen Democrats who join with all Republicans to oppose impeaching President Trump, but a third senior Democrat aide told them there would probably be many more than just a half dozen defections.
Bade and DeBonis wrote:
Lawmakers and senior aides are privately predicting they will lose more than the two Democrats who opposed the impeachment inquiry rules package in late September, according to multiple officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly. Two senior Democratic aides said the total could be as many as a half-dozen, while a third said the number could be higher.
Generally speaking, if leadership of the majority party is publicly leaking that they expect at least a half-dozen defections a week before the actual vote, the number of defections on said vote is likely to be much higher. It’s remarkable that Democrats are now readily admitting they will lose at least six Democrats on the vote, probably more, but Bade and DeBonis have also confirmed now that Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) will vote against Articles of Impeachment, just as he voted against opening the impeachment inquiry to begin with.
They also say that Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) has confirmed he is leaning against voting for Articles of Impeachment–Peterson was the other Democrat to join all Republicans in bipartisan opposition to the inquiry vote–but also that Democrat leaders expect that Peterson will join Van Drew and other Democrats in the bipartisan vote against the increasingly partisan impeachment push against Trump.
Bade and DeBonis reported that these frontline Democrats–there are yet no more who have as of yet publicly stated they intend to vote against Articles of Impeachment, but many are privately fretting the forthcoming vote–are having second thoughts about this, now that they have seen polling moving against impeachment.
Bade and DeBonis wrote:
Predictions about some defections come as a core group of centrists from districts Trump won in 2016 are having second thoughts. While many knew impeachment would never be popular in their GOP-leaning districts, some have been surprised that support hasn’t increased despite negative testimony about Trump from a series of blockbuster hearings last month. Several moderates have privately pined for other options, including a censure vote they know they’re unlikely to get. Others have even considered what one moderate called ‘splitting the baby’: backing one article of impeachment but not the other to try to show independence from the party.
Further complicating matters for Democrats is the fact that the U.S. Senate will not convict President Trump. To do so, the Senate would need 67 votes for conviction on Articles of Impeachment–and there are 53 Republicans in the Senate, all of whom are aligned behind Trump at this stage. What’s more, some Senate Democrats are potentially expected to join the bipartisan opposition to the partisan impeachment push–particularly Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), but also possibly Sens. Doug Jones (D-AL), Gary Peters (D-MI), or Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)–if it reaches that stage.
Manchin on Wednesday said he was “torn” over impeachment, and he even backed the White House’s push to have former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden be called in to testify in a potential Senate trial should it reach that stage.
While it still seems more likely than not that Articles of Impeachment will pass the House of Representatives next week, if enough of these vulnerable Democrats band together against them on the floor, they could avoid a messy Senate trial that would undoubtedly acquit Trump, giving him a massive boost going into his 2020 re-election campaign. Assuming Peterson does end up voting no, as Van Drew has confirmed he will, Democrats could only afford to lose a total of 17 more of their members on the floor and still pass impeachment.
There are four vacancies in the House, and former GOP Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan–who left the party over this–is expected to join the Democrats in the vote for impeachment, so that means Democrats would need 216 votes for impeachment to pass. As such, 19 total votes from Democrats against Articles of Impeachment–there is already at least one, probably two, with many more expected–could sink the vote.
There are 31 districts that Democrats currently represent that President Trump won in 2016, and another 20 or so that are considered battlegrounds with vulnerable incumbents.
Democrat leadership, meanwhile, does not intend to ensure its passage–and will not whip the votes for impeachment on the floor.
“In fact, Democratic leaders have said they don’t intend to whip the impeachment vote, allowing each member to make his or her own personal choice on such a historic roll call that many see as a legacy-defining issue,” Bade and DeBonis wrote before quoting Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI), a deputy whip in House Democrat leadership, as confirming the plan by Democrat leaders to not whip the vote.
Saturday, during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends Weekend, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham elaborated on the Trump administration’s decision to not participate in next week’s impeachment hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.
Grisham noted congressional Democrats had not been able to produce any evidence and called the endeavor the product of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) “silly games.”
“We’re not going to participate in a sham hearing that doesn’t give him any rights,” she said. “They get to choose all kinds of things. They keep moving the goalposts, moving the rules. I’ll also mention to people that the president was overseas when they invited him to be a part of that silly hearing. So, that timing was on purpose, and everybody knows it.”
“We’re not going to legitimize this hearing that has been absolutely ridiculous from the start,” Grisham continued. “The only evidence they have is the actual transcripts the president produced that shows he did nothing wrong. This last Judiciary hearing with those three witnesses calling out a 13-year-old son and very biased witnesses — the whole thing is a sham, and it has got to stop. It’s clearly not going to, and if it does move to the Senate, we look forward to that because it will be fair.”
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.”