Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Not surprisingly, not so easy

This is an interesting idea, but I don't think it would work:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will immediately move to hold a trial to adjudicate the articles of impeachment if and when the Senate receives them from the House of Representatives. Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution does not set many parameters for the trial, except to say that “the Chief Justice shall preside,” and “no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.” That means the Senate has sole authority to draft its own rules for the impeachment trial, without judicial or executive branch oversight.

...[A]ccording to current Senate procedure, McConnell will still need a simple majority—51 of the 53 Senate Republicans—to support any resolution outlining rules governing the trial. That means that if only three Republican senators were to break from the caucus, they could block any rule they didn’t like. (Vice President Mike Pence can’t break ties in impeachment matters.) Those three senators, in turn, could demand a secret ballot and condition their approval of the rest of the rules on getting one.
First, it is not 100% clear to me that Trump would be convicted in a secret ballot vote (although secret ballots would definitely increase the chances).

But second, and more importantly, wouldn't the three Republican Senators needed to join the unanimous Democrats to approve a secret ballot be viewed as traitors by the Republican rank-and-file? Sure, a secret ballot on the question of conviction would protect the Senators in that vote from a backlash from the Trump-loyal base. But just getting to a secret ballot would require three Republicans to publicly stick their neck out in a very high-profile vote. Based on the Senator's behavior in the Trump era, I just don't think there are three who would do that.

(via Memeorandum)