Moscow Mitch McConnell was mum on the Senate floor Thursday, with nary a peep to utter about Donald Trump and Ukraine and a whistleblower complaint showing that Trump is up to his inviting-foreign-powers-to-interfere-in-U.S.-elections tricks.
That’s the Moscow Mitch we know and love! Well, there’s this one, too: He said that the idea of impeaching Trump was “laughable” a few days ago. “If this is the ‘launching point’ for House Democrats’ impeachment process, they’ve already overplayed their hand,” he said. But that was before the White House phone call memo was released, and before the whistleblower complaint hit. Since then, crickets.
McConnell in particular needs to be pressed for a comment, now that we have a glimpse into just how big this is likely to become. Also because there are now 221 House members who support the impeachment and/or the impeachment inquiry. Given the seriousness of what we know just at the beginning of this thing—who knows how deep it could go?—Moscow Mitch McConnell needs to be pressed on whether he’ll fulfill his oath to protect and defend the Constitution, or continue paving the way for Trump.
Because here’s the thing: The Constitution doesn’t require that the Senate take up an impeachment case referred from the House. Unbelievable, but true, as explained here by Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel to President Obama. Here’s the really scary part: “The same Mitch McConnell who blocked the Senate’s exercise of its authority to advise and consent to the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, could attempt to prevent the trial of a House impeachment of Donald Trump.” We know what he’s capable of doing.
“And he would not have to look far to find the constitutional arguments and the flexibility to revise Senate rules and procedures to accomplish this purpose,” Bauer continued. The Senate rules are remarkably flexible. Granted, he would have to have a majority of his Republican conference to pull off declining to take up impeachment, but there’s nothing in the law that says he has to do take it up.
This is a man who promised he would scorch the earth and make the 2016 election pure political poison if the Obama administration told the public about the Russian government’s interference to elect Trump. He’s the one who is preventing legislation to secure our voting systems to prevent foreign hacking in 2020 from coming to the floor. He’s eminently capable of refusing to take up impeachment.
But his conference, particularly all those vulnerable Republicans who are running for reelection right now, they might not find it so easy. That’s where we can exert pressure.