Lanny Davis and Anthony Scaramucci have an ass-kickingly good idea: The Senate should proceed to an impeachment trial only if at least 20 Republican senators announce beforehand that they are open-minded about whether Donald Trump should be removed from office.
This is not a grandstanding trivial pursuit but a minimum standard of fairness, they write in a Washington Post op-ed column. Asking for a juror to commit to be open-minded before the evidence is presented by prosecutors and then tested by defense lawyers is what potential jurors are asked to commit to when they are subjected to jury selection before a trial. Senators, in effect, will be jurors at an impeachment trial, with 20 being the minimum number of Republicans who would have to vote with Democrats to convict the president on articles of impeachment.
Yes, getting 20 Republicans, let alone Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (photo, above) to publicly agree to uphold their oath is unlikely when they have repeatedly violated it in coddling Trump as only a cult can worshipfully obey its leader as he runs roughshod over the Constitution.
But the refusal of a Republican senator facing a tough reelection fight in 2020 — and there are several such races in swing states — will give their Democratic challengers potent ammunition: How can you send Senator Smith back to Washington when he refuses to even commit to his oath of office?
Davis, who was President Clinton’s special counsel and Scaramucci, who was Trump’s communications director for a New York minute, write that despite being a liberal Democrat and conservative Republican, they agree that:
President Trump must be impeached by the House and removed from office, either by the Senate or at the ballot box on Nov. 3, 2020.
Based on Trump’s undisputed words alone, there can be no doubt that the president has met the standard for impeachment. While the framers were intentionally vague in not defining what was meant by “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the two key framers who interpreted this phrase — Alexander Hamilton and James Madison — agreed that a president should be removed from office for “the abuse or violation of some public trust.”
Davis and Scaramucci suggest that if such public pronouncements of open-mindedness by at least 20 Republican jurors do not occur within a month or so after the House impeachment resolution, then a Senate trial would be a waste of time and unwise.
They write that such a move might seem unfair to Trump because it would deny him an opportunity to answer the charges brought by the House. For this reason, they propose that the president be given the option of having a full Senate trial if he wants one.
Davis and Scaramucci:
But our instinct is that, if given a choice, Trump would say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” He will know that second presentation (and the larger TV audience that goes with it) of the undeniable evidence that he asked a foreign government leader to intervene to help him in the 2020 presidential election won’t help him politically.
Our hunch is that most Americans would prefer to avoid wasting time during a crucial presidential election. They would rather focus on the important issues facing the country.
We still believe a House impeachment vote must occur. It is needed to establish an important historical precedent — holding future presidents accountable in history for what this House may find were serious abuses of presidential power.
An impeachment vote will occur. The only questions are when the vote is taken and what Ukraine scandal excuse his defenders are cycling through at the time.
The No Quid Pro Quo defense has crashed and burned, the It’s All Fake News defense is on life support, while the latest is the incredibly lame Fall Guy defense, as in his advisers played Trump for a patsy in pursuit of their own foreign policy agenda and Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney and Gordon Sondland are being fitted for fall guy outfits in the service of getting the poor, misunderstood president off the hook.
Trump is getting trounced in most 2020 election polls because few voters beyond his vaunted base remain undecided even though the election is a year distant, and a large majority of the rest say they will vote for any Democrat. Yet you can be forgiven if the 2020 campaign is starting to feel a lot like 2016.
Despite Hillary Clinton being the overwhelming favorite and popular vote winner, Trump won because of that under-appreciated MAGA cap-wearing base, his appeal as a racist and sexist, the Fox News propaganda machine and masterful use of social media by the tandem of the Trump campaign and Russia hackers. Trump is historically unpopular — more voters want him impeached than wanted Richard Nixon impeached — but the feeling persists that he could pull off another Electoral College rope-a-dope.
In this context and the near certainty that 20 Republican senators won’t suddenly grow a pair, the Davis-Scaramucci proposal is a winner in the context of every little bit helping the anti-Trump cause.
And could have the additional dividend of helping tip the Senate into Democratic hands.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on November 8, 2019 on Kiko’s House, a website featuring commentary by journalist and author, Shaun Mullen. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Mullen.