President Trump is staring down an impeachment inquiry from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues in the chamber, but the effort may start and stop in the House chamber as Politico reports Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be well within his constitutional authority to simply not take up the impeachment vote.
The Constitution gives the Senate with “sole power to try” a president on impeachment charges. And thus, per the report, McConnell could wait until after the results of the 2020 presidential and congressional elections.
Sure, it would be an unprecedented move in U.S. history for Republican leader Mitch McConnell to table Trump impeachment proceedings without allowing any significant debate or a vote to convict a president from his own party, thereby removing him from office. But it’d be well within his power.
Conventional wisdom still says there has to be a Trump trial. McConnell, after all, said in March that the Senate would have “no choice” but to hold one if the House voted for impeachment.
But political conditions can change quickly in the Trump era. And lawmakers from both parties say they wouldn’t be surprised if the Kentucky Republican ultimately made the same calculation he did in 2016 when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court — only for the Democratic president to see his pick axed by McConnell under the auspices of letting voters decide who should fill the vacancy in the next election.
Pelosi & Co. are hinging their entire impeachment effort on a July 25 phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
The call, according to Democratic members, included an illegal request by Trump for Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son.
President Trump rejected the Democratic claim and went as far as publicly releasing a record of the call. Many Republicans support Trump’s innocence, including McConnell who called the Democratic push to have Trump impeached over the controversy “laughable.”
McConnell himself didn’t respond when asked by reporters earlier this week whether he’d even allow the Senate to hold a Trump trial, though he did show his cards in a statement to POLITICO that the latest presidential quagmire was “laughable to think this is anywhere close to an impeachable offense.”
On the other side of the Capitol, Democratic-led investigations have started moving into a new gear with the first wave of Ukraine-focused subpoenas and depositions. While there’s no firm timetable for committee or floor votes to impeach the president, there are plenty of opinions about how McConnell will handle things should the case end up in his court.