Democrats plan to squeeze vulnerable Republicans with a series of tough votes that could hurt them in November.
Chuck Schumer lost the first impeachment trial battle to Mitch McConnell. But the Democratic leader and his party insist they can still win the war.
Based on strong polling numbers from both Democrats and Republicans, support for obtaining new documents at the trial is “even stronger than we thought, with large numbers of Republicans supporting it,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview. “And when you go against what the American people feel strongly about, on an issue they’re paying attention to, it’s not a good idea.”
While Senate Majority Leader McConnell has locked up enough Republican votes to ignore demands for a bipartisan framework for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, his Democratic counterpart is readying a counteroffensive. Schumer will force a series of votes designed to squeeze vulnerable Republicans and harm them on the campaign trail if they side with Trump.
Democrats argue the half-dozen at-risk GOP senators will need some daylight between them and Trump to get reelected. And if they vote against Schumer’s motions to hear new evidence and witness testimony, they’ll be seen as Trump sycophants — undermining their bids and boosting Schumer’s odds of becoming majority leader.
Public surveys in key swing states back up Democrats’ claims.
Polling from Hart Research found that 63 percent of voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina would react unfavorably if their senator voted against calling witnesses or subpoenaing documents during the Senate impeachment trial. Another poll from Morning Consult found 57 percent of voters believe the Senate should call additional witnesses. That includes 71 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of Independents and 40 percent of Republicans.
But Maine moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins is already moving to blunt Schumer’s tactics, which she has complained about bitterly. She says she’s working with a handful of Republicans to keep a pathway open for witnesses, flashing some independence from Trump and McConnell.
“I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement on how to proceed with the trial that will allow the opportunity for witnesses for both the House managers and the president’s counsel if they choose,” Collins said in a statement for this story. “It is unfortunate that Chuck Schumer — who voted against witnesses in the Clinton trial and prejudged its outcome — and his allies are seeking to politicize this process.”
GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R – Maine) seems to have forgotten that back in 1994, an Independent Counsel run by Ken Starr was charged with investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton’s pre-presidency financial dealings with the Whitewater Land Company, and conducted a wide-ranging investigation of alleged abuses including the firing of White House travel agents, the alleged misuse of FBI files, and Clinton’s conduct while he was a defendant in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former Arkansas state government employee, Paula Jones. In the course of the investigation, Linda Tripp provided Starr with taped phone conversations in which Monica Lewinsky, a former White House Intern, discussed having oral sex with the president. Served with subpoenas that he was eventually ordered to answer, Clinton himself gave a sworn deposition in the Jones case on January 17, 1998. Many witnesses were subpoenaed and provided sworn testimony.
Unlike Clinton’s impeachment, President Donald Trump has stymied every attempt by Democrats to subpoena necessary witnesses during this impeachment process. And since Schumer’s proposal has been rejected, Republicans merely see an effort to save face.
Yet concentrating on process will be good politics for Democrats.
“It’s a popular issue across America. I’ve not heard any blowback from it. Why wouldn’t someone want to hear from witnesses with firsthand information?” asked Doug Jones of Alabama, the most vulnerable Democratic senator facing reelection. He said not a single constituent “has said that’s an unreasonable position.”
And given slim hopes of most major legislation getting passed in the Senate this year, the impeachment votes may be some of the most high-profile roll calls taken by senators this year.
Senate Republicans argue that they should rely on the same set of evidence presented in the House, at least for the start, and let the Senate decide on whether to bring in more witnesses after hearing presentations from House managers and the president’s defense. That’s quite a telling statement coming from Republican Senators who need both hands to count the number of subpoenas thwarted by the Trump administration.
“This is an opportunity for Republicans who stake a claim to moderation and independence back home to put their money where their mouth is,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “This is a true binary test: Of whether or not you are all in for Trump, or whether you will occasionally demonstrate that you’re going to use your own mind and your own spine.”
As school children, we were taught that our Founding Fathers were intensely worried about the republic’ risks associated with interference and influence from foreign powers, governments and agents. So much so, that they penned and crafted distinct guidance within our Constitution to forbade this type of invasion into our democracy. How profound and insightful they were to be so wary, for we not only have foreign interference from a Cold War adversary, but we have what only Hollywood could only create as a larked plot twist, the perfected Manchurian Candidate, in President Donald Trump.
American’s who gather strength and resolve in their beloved Constitution; can not remain silent and cast a silent shadow. I refuse to believe that even Republican’s, who shout “Make America Great Again” with the fervorance of our original Minutemen, can not seriously believe for one moment that this as anything but shameful and should not be tolerable.
Sympathizers scoff and say, “He was just joking”; as if the Leader of the Free World should be joking with something as non-trivial as the protections set forth by our Founding Fathers. Those men, sitting at a table in Freedom Hall in Philadelphia, placed not only their life on the line for their freedom against tyranny, but gave of themselves the ability to see further than their own needs to give every last American, for generations to come, the guidance and wisdom to fight tyranny for the generations of American’s to come.
224 years ago, we birthed a nation. Brave men and women christened a country. We brought blood, sweat, tears into a fight against a country that, on paper, was militarily superior to our own. Now, we are the most superior nation on Earth, so it seems apropos to watch the withering cornerstone’s of our democracy; the sanctified tenets of our Republic, crumble out from beneath us. The words of our Fore Fathers echoing no more. The words on the holied parchment of our Constitution; meaning nothing more than the ink that was used to create them.
It’s sad day for America. Everyday we crumbled a bit more.