Douglas Andrews / Jan. 21, 2021

Let's Make an Impeachment Deal?

Just what did Senators McConnell and Schumer talk about in Tuesday's secretive power-sharing discussion?

In David Mamet’s 1987 film “The Untouchables,” Sam Malone, the salty old Irish cop played by Sean Connery, says of Al Capone’s Chicago, “This town stinks like a [something or other] at low tide.”

Mamet’s characters always had a way with words.

And speaking of towns that stink, Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer met in DC on Tuesday. Apparently, they spoke for 30 minutes about a power-sharing arrangement in their brand-new 50-50 Senate.

It was, in McConnell’s words, “a good discussion.”

That’s it. That’s all he said about their meeting. Chuck Schumer didn’t say much, either. This alone tells us just how sensitive the discussions were. Because the most dangerous place in DC isn’t in the midst of an antifa mob or a BLM mob or a Capitol mob; it’s between Schumer and a live mic. If all we can get out of him is that they “discussed a whole lot of issues,” then we can safely assume this is the start of some serious sausage-making. So maybe it’s best that they keep their lips buttoned.

Still, it’d be nice to know what they talked about.

The weather, perhaps? The inauguration ball? Senate rules and traditions? The filibuster? DC statehood? The Supreme Court? The Green New Deal? Whipping up enough Republican votes to help the Democrats convict Donald Trump in a Senate impeachment trial and thereby ensure he can never again run for the presidency?

On this last topic, we can think of one Republican who’s already got his mind made up — the guy who said this: “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.”

That was Mitch McConnell — the man who himself took a full month before acknowledging Joe Biden’s win. Presumably, he wasn’t referring to the moments just before the Capitol mayhem when the inciter-in-chief roared to a flag-wielding mob, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

Setting aside the sad fact that where impeachment is concerned, McConnell has more in common with Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and Maxine Waters than he does with Senate colleagues Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, perhaps the most pathetic part of his eagerness to convict the former president is the unconstitutionality of it all. And this is a man who — throughout his Senate career and to his great credit — has invoked the Constitution as much as anyone. But as Judge Michael Luttig correctly pointed out more than a week ago, “It appears that even if the House of Representatives impeaches President Trump … the Senate trial on that impeachment will not begin until after Trump has left office and President-Elect Biden has become president on Jan. 20. That Senate trial would be unconstitutional.”

Luttig, who was once on George W. Bush’s Supreme Court short list, continued: “Trump would no longer be incumbent in the Office of the President … and would no longer be subject to ‘impeachment conviction’ by the Senate, under the Constitution’s Impeachment Clauses. Which is to say that the Senate’s only power under the Constitution is to convict — or not — an incumbent president” (emphasis ours).

Schumer, of course, couldn’t care less about the Constitution. “After what he has done,” Schumer said, “the consequences of which we were all witness to, Donald Trump should not be eligible to run for office ever again. … There will be a vote on barring him from running again.”

Schumer needs 67 votes. That means he needs 17 Republicans. And it sounds like he already has McConnell in his pocket. And, as New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin notes, a “yes” vote from McConnell would likely open the floodgates — or at least embolden 16 others.

True, a power-sharing deal would likely help the GOP stave off the worst of the Democrats’ designs. But at what cost? Throwing Trump under the impeachment bus? No thanks. Besides, as Goodwin points out, “McConnell was just re-elected, so his seat is safe, but the GOP will get slaughtered in the 2022 midterms if Trumpers stay home, giving Dems at least four years of complete control of Washington.”

We think Goodwin is onto something. As is Kentucky’s junior senator, Rand Paul, who warns of a mass exodus from the GOP if Republican senators throw in for conviction.

To be sure, McConnell was a conservative stalwart during his years as Senate majority leader. His efforts to seat conservative judges during the past four years will have long-lasting consequences for Liberty. And his resolute stand against Barack Obama’s attempt to place Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court gave us Justice Neil Gorsuch instead. A case can even be made that by making the Supreme Court a key campaign issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, McConnell might’ve helped move just enough votes from Hillary Clinton’s column into Donald Trump’s.

But here we are. And he’s dead wrong on this. Power sharing for the sake of power and at the expense of constitutional principles is conduct unbecoming. Trump is out of office. The impeachment door has closed. And even if it hadn’t closed, his January 6 speech was not an incitement to insurrection, which is the impeachment charge.

Please choose wisely, Senator McConnell, and decide whether you’re with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer or the 74 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump. It can’t be both.

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