By Tank Murdoch
(TNS) After Democrats in the House returned two politicized articles of impeachment against President Trump without a single ‘high crime and misdemeanor’ he was alleged to have committed, his acquittal in the GOP-controlled Senate seemed like a slam dunk.
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After seeing how majority Democrats broke rules, overturned procedural precedence, and completely shut minority Republicans out of the impeachment inquiry — then voted to impeach without waiting for court battles over subpoenas for White House officials to be called as witnesses to get resolved — it seemed the last thing the august upper chamber wanted was to perpetuate the clown show.
But then we, as did many others, underestimated the power of the RINO faction, and it now appears after more Democrat dirty tricks involving specious, as-yet-unfounded claims made by Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, at least three and possibly four Republican senators are defying Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
On Tuesday, the Kentucky Republican suggested that, all of a sudden, he didn’t think he had the votes to simply acquit the president by Friday. Based on various reports, the usual RINOs — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), and two-time failed GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney (Utah) — now ‘believe’ they ‘may want’ to hear from Bolton and other “witnesses.”
Never mind per the Constitution, the House does the investigation and the Senate listens to the House present its case. But I digress.
So, according to Fox News, GOP leaders in the Senate are now considering an aggressive “Plan B” that involves — possibly — counting on votes from some politically vulnerable Democrats to acquit the president. And if that were to happen, it would be bipartisan — noteworthy, considering that the vote to impeach President Trump in the first place was completely partisan: All Democrats, no Republicans (though a few Democrats votedÂ against the articles of impeachment).
The network reports:
With several Democrats openlyÂ floatingÂ the possibilityÂ they might vote to acquit President Trump, congressional Republicans are planning an aggressive “Plan B” strategy in the event some Republicans break off and demand additional witnesses in the president’s impeachment trial, Fox News has learned.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,Â privately saidÂ early Tuesday that he wasn’t sure there were enough Republican votes to blockÂ more witnesses, given that some moderates in the GOP’s 53-47 Senate majority were wavering.Â Any witness resolution would likely require fourÂ Republican defections in the Senate, because inÂ the event of a 50-50 tie, Chief Justice of the United StatesÂ John Roberts is highly likely to abstain rather than assert hisÂ debatable powerÂ to cast aÂ tiebreaking vote.
Late Tuesday night, a Senate leadership source told Fox News that Republicans were specifically assessing the viability of two alternative options.
One planÂ is to amend any resolution calling for a particular witnessÂ to also include aÂ package of witnessesÂ that assuredly wouldn’t win enough support in the Senate. For example, if the Democrats seek to call former National Security AdvisorÂ JohnÂ Bolton, Republicans might subpoenaÂ Hunter BidenÂ over hisÂ lucrative board positionÂ in Ukraine, andÂ Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., over his inconsistent statements concerning his panel’sÂ contactsÂ with the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment probe.
The “package deal” proposal could afford moderate Republicans the political cover of supporting more witnesses in theory, while ultimately rejecting a witness package they deem flawed. Even if a witness package passed, the resolution couldÂ be written such that theÂ witness phase of the trial ends immediately if aÂ key witness, such as Hunter Biden, defies hisÂ subpoena.
Given what happened in House, where GOP didn't get to call witnesses unless they were also on Dem list, shouldn't senators demand four GOP witnesses per Dem witness? Or what would be the proper ratio? https://t.co/weilkVtaRA
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) January 29, 2020
Another option, the congressional leadership source told Fox News, is for theÂ White House to assert executive privilege to block witnesses, including Bolton. The administration could head to court to obtain an emergency injunction against his testimony, citing national security concerns. Trump has said he is concerned about his former top advisor potentially spilling national security secrets, and the legal principle of executive privilege has long shielded executive branch deliberations from disclosure.
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That might end up in a court battle, and could prove dicey if Bolton opts to go rogue and defy the White House’s assertion of privilege as it makes its way through the courts.
As the power plays out in DC over impeachment, it seems relevant to note that the majority of Americans have tuned it out and would love it if their elected representatives would instead focus on the business at hand, such as repairing infrastructure, lowering healthcare costs, and bringing American troops home from endless wars — all things, by the way, that the president whom they are trying to impeach wants to do.
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