Four Ways to Think About Impeachment

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ended her delay of the impeachment of President Donald Trump. The House of Representatives will name impeachment managers on Wednesday and finally send thearticles of impeachment over to the Senate, which is now scheduled to formally convene its trial on Thursday and then begin it in earnest next Tuesday. 

Four quick points:

  • Did Pelosi and the Democrats lose a showdown with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell? That’s whatCNN’s Chris Cillizza says. I don’t see it. The political scientist and Washington Post columnist Dan Drezner iscloser to the mark. He tweeted: “Pelosi got little from McConnell in delaying the transmittal of impeachment. On the other hand, during the delay some damning new documents appeared, Bolton said he’d testify, and now even the Trump White House expects witnesses will be called.” John Bolton, one of Trump’s former national security advisers, was part of the White House foreign-policy team when Trump ordered military aid withheld from Ukraine as he pressured that country to investigate a leading Democratic rival, ex-Vice President Joe Biden — the topic of one of the impeachment articles. Overall, I’d say Pelosi may have marginally helped her cause, and it’s hard to make an argument that she harmed it. 
  • Thenew documents released by House Democrats on Tuesday, exposing previously unknown details about efforts by Trump associates to obtain material in Ukraine that would undermine Trump’s Democratic opponents, probably don’t change anything. Whatever evidence emerges is unlikely to change either the trial outcome or its effect on public opinion. But it has to worry House Republicans, who have already voted to support Trump, and Senate Republicans expecting to vote to acquit him. At least a little bit. Because if new ugly details are still emerging, who’s to say that more won’t turn up later?
  • Senators Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders will be stuck in Washington instead of campaigning in Iowa, whose Feb. 3 caucuses are the first contest in the presidential nominating race, and in the other early states. And during the trial, their job will be mostly to sit and listen. Still, I think any supposed effect of their attendance on the upcoming primaries and caucuses is probably overrated. The campaigns will go on without their personal participation. What could matter quite a bit, however, is if the impeachment trial eats up media attention that otherwise might have been devoted to the campaign. That could reduce the chance that any candidate could have a late surge in Iowa, and could reduce the impact of the Iowa and New Hampshire voting on the rest of the nominating process.
  • Whether you think Trump is guilty or innocent, or haven’t paid enough attention to develop a point of view, I do recommend tuning in for at least some of the trial. It will be just the third Senate trial of a presidential impeachment in the history of the nation, and in my view it’s both patriotic and good civics to pay at least a little attention to it — to see what this particular form of self-government looks like. And yes, that applies even if you believe that impeaching Trump is a farce — or if you believe that the way the Senate majority is handling it is a farce. Which should account for 90% or more of those reading this.

1. Kelly Dittmar explains the evidence, which says: Yes, of coursea woman can be elected president.

2. Matt Grossmann speaks with Neil Visalvanich and Seth Masket aboutdiversity in the Democratic presidential nomination campaign.

3. Charles Zug at A House Divided on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

4. Kattie Mettler with a good, detailed look at theadministration vacancies relevant to the Iran crisis and why they matter.

5. My Bloomberg Opinion colleague Tyler Cowen onwages.

6. David Byler onKlobuchar’s chances.

7. And Jonathan Cohen on Warren, Sanders, andtrade policy. 

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