Let’s play out this impeachment saga for a brief moment.
The U.S. House of Representatives appears nearly certain to impeach Donald Trump along partisan lines; there might be one Democrat who’ll vote “no” to impeach the president. A former GOP House member will vote “yes” on the issue.
Then it goes to the Senate, which will conduct a trial. The Senate needs 67 out of 100 votes to convict the president. Republicans currently occupy 53 seats; Democrats have 45 seats, but two independents caucus with the Democrats.
So, what do you suppose might occur if, say, a lame-duck GOP senator or three or four decides to convict the president? Donald Trump would still be acquitted of any high crime and misdemeanor brought to the Senate.
Think of it, though, as an acquittal based on a “technicality.” There is an outside chance that most of the Senate could vote to convict Trump. The technicality occurs because there won’t be enough of them to result in the president’s ouster from office. The closest President Clinton came to such an event was a tie vote on one of the counts brought against him in his 1999 Senate trial; the other count ended up with a 55-45 vote to acquit.
I know it’s a long shot. Those of us who think Trump has committed impeachable offenses are wondering if there are enough Republican senators with stones who will toss aside any threat the president might level against them. Those individuals who have decided against running for re-election next year, thus, might decide to vote their conscience.
I mean, there’s nothing Trump can do to punish them. They’re on the way out the door.
Hardline conservatives generally detest verdicts based on “a technicality.” How might they respond if the president of the United States benefits from the technicality the nation’s founders created when they set the high bar for removal of a president?