Moscow Mitch McConnell has finally spoken up about the actual impeachment that Donald Trump now faces, telling CNBC Monday morning, “Well, under the Senate rules, we’re required to take it up if the House does go down that path, and we’ll follow the Senate rules. […] It’s a Senate rule related to impeachment that would take 67 votes to change.”
That got a lot of headlines and tweets, but the other part of that statement is the more notable one when you’re talking McConnell: “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up, based on a Senate rule on impeachment.” The taking-up of an impeachment referral might be subject to a supermajority vote, but McConnell has wide latitude both within the existing rules and to change some of those rules related to any particular referral with a simple majority. Under the rules, he could take up the impeachment and immediately move to dismiss it, and if he had a majority, it would work. He could do the same and table it, if he had 51 votes.
But McConnell didn’t really want to talk about that. What he wanted to talk about was all the work he insisted was going to be happening in Congress. “What I want to do is spend our time accomplishing things for the American people,” said the guy who’s spent the last nine months gleefully proclaiming himself the Grim Reaper of House legislation. “We think that we ought to be able to do more than just create controversy here,” McConnell said. Once again, remarkably, he wasn’t immediately struck by lightning.
Everything we know about Moscow Mitch tells us that he’s not going to spend his time accomplishing things for the American people and that he absolutely knows how to subvert the norms and the rules to do whatever the hell he wants when it comes to impeachment. Which means two things: House Democrats have to make an airtight case to the American people, and we the people have to force Republican senators to do their jobs.