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Tue Nov 12, 2019, 08:00 AM

There's a Surprisingly Plausible Path to Removing Trump From Office [View all]


It would take just three Republican senators to turn the impeachment vote into a secret ballot. It’s not hard to imagine what would happen then.

By JULEANNA GLOVER November 12, 2019

Juleanna Glover has worked as an adviser for several Republican politicians, including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Rudy Giuliani, and advised the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Jeb Bush.

By most everyone’s judgment, the Senate will not vote to remove President Donald Trump from office if the House impeaches him. But what if senators could vote on impeachment by secret ballot? If they didn’t have to face backlash from constituents or the media or the president himself, who knows how many Republican senators would vote to remove?

A secret impeachment ballot might sound crazy, but it’s actually quite possible. In fact, it would take only three senators to allow for that possibility.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will immediately move to hold a trial to adjudicate the articles of impeachment if and when the Senate receives them from the House of Representatives. Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution does not set many parameters for the trial, except to say that “the Chief Justice shall preside,” and “no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.” That means the Senate has sole authority to draft its own rules for the impeachment trial, without judicial or executive branch oversight.

During the last impeachment of a president, Bill Clinton, the rules were hammered out by Democrats and Republicans in a collaborative process, as then Senate leaders Trent Lott and Tom Daschle recently pointed out in a Washington Post op-ed. The rules passed unanimously. That’s unlikely this time, given the polarization that now defines our politics. McConnell and his fellow Republicans are much more likely to dictate the rules with little input from Democrats.

But, according to current Senate procedure, McConnell will still need a simple majority—51 of the 53 Senate Republicans—to support any resolution outlining rules governing the trial. That means that if only three Republican senators were to break from the caucus, they could block any rule they didn’t like. (Vice President Mike Pence can’t break ties in impeachment matters.) Those three senators, in turn, could demand a secret ballot and condition their approval of the rest of the rules on getting one.


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Reply There's a Surprisingly Plausible Path to Removing Trump From Office [View all]
Dennis Donovan Nov 2019 OP
Vinca Nov 2019 #1
olegramps Nov 2019 #14
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Teach-only-love Nov 2019 #23
olegramps Nov 2019 #47
patricia92243 Nov 2019 #2
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certainot Nov 2019 #35
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Pacifist Patriot Nov 2019 #25
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