At least one Republican senator is feeling very bullish about a Donald Trump impeachment victory.
Sen. Roy Blunt (MO) told Missouri radio station KSSZ that Trump will be able to bask in the glow of acquittal before giving his State of the Union address in February, the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday. Blunt made the sharp assessment that impeachment will end “predictably” despite a partisan stalemate that has thrown the timeline into doubt.
“I think we should have had enough time for both the House to fairly present its view of why the president should be impeached and for the president…to have a chance for his lawyers to explain why he shouldn’t be, and then we’ll have that vote and move on,” Blunt said.
GOP senator predicts quick acquittal
Until Democrats voted to impeach Trump, there were few surprises: Trump was going to be impeached, it was said, and before long, Republicans would vote to acquit him. But Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) injected some uncertainty into the process when she refused to send over articles of impeachment to the Senate, apparently in an attempt to prevent Republicans from swiftly exonerating the president.
The timeline for the Senate trial is now unclear as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continues to wrangle with Chuck Schumer (D-NY) over the terms: while the minority leader wants to hear more witnesses, McConnell is ready to vote and move on. For his part, Blunt appeared to back McConnell’s approach, saying that the Senate trial would be “pretty predictable” while pointing out that Pelosi did not heed her own warnings about partisan impeachments.
“Nancy Pelosi said at the very start of the year that if impeachment wasn’t bipartisan, it wouldn’t work,” Blunt said. “And it was clearly not bipartisan in the House, not a single Republican voted for the articles of impeachment, and a couple of Democrats didn’t, either.”
Pelosi has invited Trump to give the State of the Union address in February, so it appears that she does expect him to remain in office at least until then. Lawmakers will return Jan. 7, which would give the Senate about a month to go through the motions before voting to acquit Trump just in time for his speech, The Hill reported.
Republicans eye fast trial
While Pelosi has said that she will not send the articles until Republicans can promise “fairness,” McConnell has made no secret of his desire to move through a trial as quickly as possible. And while he hasn’t given a timeline, he is expected to hold a trial with few if any witnesses.
The partisan stalemate has sparked speculation of Pelosi’s motive: while some conjecture that she is undermining her case and calling its seriousness into question, others say that Pelosi is trying to peel away Republican support for Trump by highlighting coordination between McConnell and the White House.
So far, at least two moderate Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski (AL) and Susan Collins (R-ME), have expressed misgivings about McConnell’s approach, USA Today notes.
But most Republicans are splitting the other way, and barring some unexpected mutiny, Trump will sooner or later be able to claim vindication. The junior senator from Missouri, the whip-smart freshman Josh Hawley (R-MO), expressed the mood of the party when he said last week that he’s “ready to vote now.”
“I’m ready to vote now,” Hawley told The Hill. “I think the articles are a joke.”