Monday, December 23, 2019

Both Sides Dig In Over Senate Trial

Noah Feldman, who testified during the House impeachment hearings (before Nadler's Judiciary Committee), posted something of a bombshell piece at Bloomberg the other day, "If Trump's Impeached, Then Why Can't a Senate Start Now?"

The whole delay is totally predictable. The Dems are losing the debate over impeachment, which went down on straight party lines. Trump's approval ratings are at the highest points of his presidency. Some House Democrats were grumbling about how they only wanted to "censure" the president, not impeach. Blah, blah.

It's going to the Senate one way or another, mainly because the American people aren't going to stand for the left's shenanigans too much longer.

In any case, at LAT, "Trump impeachment trial: Squaring off in the Senate":

WASHINGTON —  A senior White House official and leading Senate Republicans predicted Sunday that congressional Democrats would fail in their bid to force the Senate to summon witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial.
Democrats countered by asking why, if Trump were innocent, he would block the testimony of top aides with direct knowledge of his dealings with Ukraine — actions that led the House of Representatives to approve two articles of impeachment against the president last week.

Following Wednesday’s vote, only the third time in history that the House has impeached a president, Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not immediately forward the articles to the Senate for trial.

Democrats said that, in light of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge to work in close concert with the White House, they were not satisfied the proceedings would be conducted fairly and impartially. Pelosi said she wanted clarity about what rules the Senate planned to follow before deciding which members of the House would act as the prosecutors, known as managers, of the case in the Senate.

Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is expected to send the articles to the Senate after the holiday recess. Senior White House aide Marc Short said he expected Republicans would make no concessions in return, even though Trump says he wants a quick trial in the GOP-controlled Senate.

“We’re confident this position is untenable, and she’s going to move it along,” Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence and a former White House legislative director, told “Fox News Sunday.”

“She will yield — there’s no way she can hold this position,” he said, referring to Pelosi.

The White House’s current opposition to witnesses in the Senate marks an about-face. Until recently, Trump was insisting he wanted extensive witnesses. He hoped to turn a trial into an opportunity for his lawyers to call prominent Democrats and force them to answer questions about his so-far-groundless allegations of misconduct among that party’s members. McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Senate Republicans opposed that idea and appeared to have convinced Trump to drop it.

Democratic lawmakers defended Pelosi’s delay.

“I think what she’s just trying to do is make sure the best possible case for a fair trial happens,” said Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Addressing Trump directly, Booker said: “If you’re innocent, have acting Chief of Staff [Mick] Mulvaney come before the Senate, swear to an oath — settle this whole thing.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said Pelosi was doing “exactly the right thing” in “focusing a spotlight on the need to have a fair trial in the United States Senate.”

Since an impeachment inquiry began nearly three months ago, Trump has refused any cooperation by the executive branch. The blanket rejection of subpoenas for documents and squelching of appearances by key figures such as Mulvaney and Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo formed the basis for one of the two articles of impeachment, alleging obstruction of Congress. The other accuses Trump of abuse of power.

More than a dozen diplomats and current or former administration officials defied Trump’s instructions and testified in the House proceedings. Those witnesses helped House Democrats make their case that the president withheld crucial military aid and a coveted White House meeting as a means of pressuring Ukraine’s newly elected leader to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Trump, who has never consistently accepted U.S. intelligence findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election on his behalf, also asked President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into a debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in that election on behalf of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent.

Although new evidence continues to emerge, Democrats say it is impossible to establish key details of what transpired if Trump blocks testimony by senior aides...
More at WaPo, via Memeorandum, "Impeachment live updates: McConnell, Pelosi dig in on impasse over Trump's Senate trial."