Surprise! Trump acquitted in the expected split vote

February 5, 2020 • 5:14 pm

Now we’ll have to hear the Chief Narcissist gloating for at least nine more months. Read and weep:

There were two votes. On the obstruction of Congress charge, the vote to convict was 47-53, split completely along party lines. On the charge of abuse of power, Mitt Romney crossed the aisle, the only Republican to vote with the Democrats, yielding a 48-52 vote. (Remember, a 67-33 vote would be needed to convict.) Only Romney had the guts to defect from the party. And the vote is a true sign of both how polarized Congress is, and also of how fearful Republican senators are of appearing to defy Trump. What a pack of sheep!

And that’s all I have to say—except this. I was foolish to think that Bolton might testify and that would be a game-changer, making the GOP realize that Trump really was unfit to be President. You readers realized that that was a pipe dream, as judged from a highly-commented-on post ; but, as I often do, I prognosticated from my heart rather than my head.

62 thoughts on “Surprise! Trump acquitted in the expected split vote

  1. Not surprising but shocking that this is the state of things. If you told me 29 years ago that this would happen in America I would have been shocked. But at least everyone gets to see how bad things have become. I really hope the Democratic nominee doesn’t let anyone forget come election time.

    1. Well, since many on both sides are so suspicious of each other nowadays, and they both realized that too much are at stake for the identity of the party controlling the WH, Congress, and the Supreme Court.
      A possible Republican thought process:
      1. If we ditch Trump for Pence, it might turn off many of the 2016 voters.
      2. The lives of fetuses, Christian religious freedom, gun rights, etc. are at stake.
      3. So we must succeed via any legal means necessary.

    2. “But at least everyone gets to see how bad things have become.”

      With the exception of the wilfully blind of course.

  2. A trial with no evidence and no witnesses. If I ever come to trial, I will claim Presidential precedent [perhaps the lawyers here can comment – my understanding is that an indictment/impeachment is not considered as evidence at the trial]

    1. Out of the two other presidents that were impeached (Nixon resigned before impeachment by the House), Clinton was in his second term so he could not seek re-election. Interestingly, Andrew Johnson sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1868, but he got nowhere. Technically, he was not trying to be re-elected since he achieved the office of presidency after Lincoln’s death. Prior to his acceptance of running with Lincoln in 1864 on the National Union Ticket (a temporary renaming of the Republican Party), he was a lifelong Democrat.

  3. The big loser is the vaunted Constitution which has been rent asunder and left in tatters.

    It can’t work when the people in government are deciding things or voting under duress. They have a built-in conflict of interest when they feel their very livelihood is in jeopardy. Self-preservation rules the day, and sadly there is a dearth of modern-day heroes.

  4. I reasonably gather that:

    1. Romney may not be all that inclined to run for re-election, and if he runs and is defeated, so be it. He stood on principle, which history will look upon kindly-enough, and which I gather will go not a little way toward ameliorating (what I perceived to be) his waffling, saying whatever he thought it took, to win the 2012 POTUS election. (“Corporations are People, My Friend,” notwithstanding.)

    2. His Mormon brethren in Utah, composing a significant fraction of his constituency, and affronted by Trump’s behavior, support his decision.

    1. Romney isn’t up for re-election for almost 5 years. Also, he has plenty of dough so even if he loses he’ll be fine.

      Other Senators need the income to sustain the lifestyle they are accustomed to. Not that this excuses their cowardice, but it explains it.

      It should be noted, Romney credited his faith for giving him the ‘will’ to vote for conviction. While this does nothing to convince me that god exists, I think it’s the fair thing to acknowledge.

      I do appreciate Romney for taking his oath serious, so there is that.

  5. Many pundits have characterized the impeachment process as historic. To me, I just didn’t feel it. Nor did I feel it with the Clinton impeachment. This is because in both cases the final result was pre-ordained. There was no tension or excitement. How different was Nixon and Watergate. Then, the Republican Party had a soul (metaphorically, of course) and it was unclear to the day he resigned what would happen.

    As an aside, it has just been announced that Kirk Douglas has died at 103. He will always be Spartacus!.

    1. Kirk Douglas will also always be Colonel Dax in “Paths of Glory” (1957) and Jack Burns in “Lonely Are the Brave” (1962), both much tighter, better films than “Spartacus”

      And, maybe most interesting of all, the ambitious, semi-crooked Marshal Nightingale in “Posse” (1975). This was a startlingly revisionist Western which went against the grain of every Western ever made. Douglas produced and directed, as well as starring as the problematic, semi-villainous main character.

  6. In related news: There’s gambling at Rick’s!

    This was an act of abject political cowardice for an entire Party, save one: Mitt Romney, who had the courage to buck Republican pressure to vote to convict Trump on Article 1 (the first senator in United States history to vote to convict a president from his own party at an impeachment trial). It was also an act of courage by Doug Jones, the Alabama Democrat who barely squeaked by Roy Moore in a special senate election two years ago, and who probably threw away any chance he had for reelection by standing on principle.

    The repercussions for Romney from the vengeful Trumpists have begun already. Dipshit, Jr., immediately tweeted that Romney should be expelled from the GOP (as happened to arch-conservative Michigan congressman Justin Amash immediately after he came out in favor of impeachment upon reading the Mueller report). And, merely for Romney’s earlier vote in favor of calling impeachment trial witnesses, Romney was immediately disinvited from the Conservative Political Action Conference later this month. (Never mind that CPAC has invited the son of Brazil’s neo-Fascist president, Jair Bolsonaro, this year — just as the year before last, CPAC invited Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the niece of the leader of France’s National Front.)

    The Republicans must be defeated decisively next November — Donald Trump for president, for sure. But Democrats must also — either directly by putting down his reelection bid, or indirectly by taking a majority of the US senate seats — pry the senate gavel from the rapacious paw of Mitch McConnell, the most vile and pernicious politician of his generation.

    1. Sherrod Brown, Democratic senator from Ohio, has posted an op-ed at the NYT describing how most Republican senators voted for acquittal out of abject fear of what Trump could do to them politically. This reminds me of how Nazi officials under Hitler and Communists under Stalin could never utter a negative word against their respective leaders out of fear of instant death. For today’s Republicans, political death could be worse than actual death. This is what happens when people succumb to cult leaders. Romney’s vote for conviction will be the defining moment of his life and what he will be remembered for. His plutocratic tendencies will fade from memory.

      1. Yes, the only thing that matters to congressional Republicans individually is to remain in office. And the only thing that matters to them collectively is to retain power in the two-and-a-half branches of government Republicans currently control.

      2. Hence the shock and indignation when Mr Schiff mentioned “their heads on a pike”, Truth is shocking.

      3. ‘One journalist remarked to me, “How in the world can these senators walk around here upright when they have no backbone?”’

        Hitch: “If I can’t be erect at least I can be upright.”

        1. In the NY Times today, one learns that Trump has called Romney “a pompous ass.”

          Breath-taking sense of self-non-awareness.

  7. The 48 Senators that voted to convict represent 18 million more people than the 52 Senators that voted not to convict.

    1. Is that calculated from how many peple there are in the respective districts-states, or based on actual numer of votes given?
      At any rate, the Senate vote is ridiculously skewed one vote in Wyoming weighs 70 times a vote in NY.

      1. In a representative democracy, the representatives represent everybody in their constituency, not just the ones that voted for them. So the number should reflect the populations of the states.

  8. It’s funny that folks, not just here but far and wide, seem to think Romney found some virtue or strength or spine to cross the aisle on one of the votes.

    I see him as weak and simpering.

    A truly brave thing would be to leave the party, renounce it, rebuke it, start another, and lead others to burn what the other has become to the ground.

    If he really believed what he said about oaths, and faith, and gawd, there is no other path. If you can’t cast out the demons, leave the camp and wander the wilderness.

    1. Very much a political move. If Trump wins, Romney still isn’t up for reelection until 2024, and at that point Trump will almost certainly have forgotten or moved on to some other enemy. OTOH, if Trump loses, Romney looks more mainstream for a run for President against the Dem in 2024.

      1. Peut-être. In just aghast that it took this set of circumstances to stand up, to make his voice heard when there were so many other times when dissent would have been virtuous. You’re right, this was craven, reptilien, political move shrouded in mystical, religious frou-frou. Deepak Chopra is probably jealous.

      1. Amash left voluntarily. Romney may not. And trying to change the rules to force him out may be an own-goal.

        Romney’s plan seems to be to still be standing when Trump has imploded and to then be in a prime position to rescue the Republican Party rather than watch it sink. For what it’s worth, I hope he fails in this endeavor. Republicans need to go the way of the Whigs.

    2. “I see him as weak and simpering.”

      Surely not anywhere near as much had he succumbed to the obsequious, cringing human primate herd mentality obtaining in the U.S. Senate and across a fair portion of the fruited plain.

      He very well may yet cut ties with the Republican party. Will some part of you be disappointed if he does?

        1. No doubt that will be progress of a kind, as his voting “guilty” on one of the two impeachment charges, and now having to bear up under a Trumpian tsunami of invective, apparently does not sufficiently sway.

          1. See memory is a funny thing.

            I remember Marion Barry with a pipe and lady of the night, I remember Bill with his string of ladies, Craig and his dancing toes, Sanford and the long hike, and Blagojevich and the Golden thing.

            Did the voters forget? Sometimes. Does gawd forget? It never remembers.

  9. Don’t be too hard on yourself PCC, I think it was actually touch and go there for a while on whether the Senate would allow witnesses.

    …but removal? Yeah, that would’ve taken something like the classic “caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy” – happening within the last few weeks ago – for removal to happen.

  10. Congressional Republicans are headed for a real moment of truth should Donald Trump lose in November. Trump will undoubtedly throw the nation into a constitutional crisis by trying to pardon himself during the lame-duck session between election night and the next inauguration in January 2021 (perhaps as early as the closing of the polls on November 3rd). He will also issue blanket pardons to his immediate family, and perhaps to the inner circle that has aided and abetted his nefarious activities — or perhaps not as to the latter, depending on whether he feels need of their continued loyalty.

    And, by the same type of biological imperative that causes salmon to swim upstream, Trump will be impelled to contend that the election was “rigged” (as he had begun to do even in 2016 until, to his surprise, he won). If the election is close, especially in swing states that could determine the results in the electoral college, Trump will almost certainly also try to contest the results in court.

    In so doing, he may tear this nation apart. If Trump keeps the support of his hardcore base, which is now essentially the entire Republican Party — 40% or more of this nation’s population — will congressional Republicans dare to defy him and thereby risk the wrath of a completely unshackled Trump, a Trump with nothing left to lose, as well as the wrath of those who would follow him anywhere, the voters on whose support they depend for their own reelections? Or will they, even then, continue to capitulate?

    1. He may do more than just go to the courts. He may call his supporters to take to the streets, code for violence. Trumpism will not die easily.

      1. I remember a cartoon from before the last election, it was showing different people with lines like:
        Mitt Romney – if elected, first mormon President
        Bernie Sanders – if elected, first Jewish President
        Hillary Clinton – if elected, first woman President
        Donald Trump – if elected, last President of the USA

      2. Quite possibly. He’s very unlikely to go gracefully. Trump probably won’t give a concession speech on election night. He likely won’t invite the victor to the White House for a sit-down during the transition phase (as Obama did him). He may not greet the president-elect and his or her spouse at the White House on inauguration day or attend the swearing-in ceremony and new president’s inauguration address (as every prior defeated incumbent president has put on a brave face and done in US history).

        None of these things is required by law. They are matters of US custom and tradition and the norms of behavior expected of those who’ve been elected to high office — all of which Donald Trump has repeatedly demonstrated he holds in utter contempt.

        And, as we’ve both pointed out above, it could get much, much uglier than that.

        1. I realized during the Harper years here in Canada how much of what we do is convention, not policy, never mind law.

          It would be sadly interesting to see how much of that has been destroyed in the US …

  11. At some point in the very near future much of the evidence Republicans voted not to see will come to light and many of the witnesses they voted not to hear from will speak.

    At this point they will act shocked at what is said and shown and ask how they could have known.

  12. He’ll bully the hell out of Romney now of course. And his voters will love it. (They love pretty much anything mean and/or nasty anyway.)

  13. If the Senate had voted to allow witnesses and Bolton had testified, it would still not be a game changer IMO. In the public hearings in the House, we already had first hand witnesses testifying and, of course, a telephone call released by Trump himself and it made no difference.

  14. On both sides of the Atlantic its the lack of decent opponents to Johnson and Trump that really stands out.

    None of the US Democrat candidates look very impressive, while Keir Starmer is the only Labour candidate I’ve even heard of.

    There is the horrible prospect of the Hair Bear Twins continuing in power simply for the lack of any opposition.

    1. The fact that you have only heard of one Labour candidate is a symptom of the uselessness of the current leader. The opposition has been pretty much absent without leave since Corbyn assumed command and therefore its politicians have not had the media coverage they need to get well known

      Brexit would not be happening if Labour had a reasonably good pro EU leader.

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