Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly will not force a Senate vote on whether or not to dismiss the articles of impeachment ahead of the Senate trial, possibly to help “vulnerable” GOP senators facing tough re-election campaigns in 2020, but more likely because McConnell lacks the 51 votes necessary to dismiss the issue out of hand.
President Donald Trump expressed his desire to see McConnell hold a vote to dismiss the articles of impeachment before a Senate trial begins over the weekend, tweeting that, “Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crime, read the transcripts, ‘no pressure’ Impeachment Hoax, rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have. I agree!”
But to get dismissal, McConnell would need 51 votes, and given how difficult it was for the Kentucky Republican to marshal his troops behind voting “no” on allowing witnesses to testify during the impeachment trial — something Democrats tried to force by withholding the articles of impeachment for weeks — it’s unlikely he’d be able to form a concrete coalition for dismissal ahead of the start of Trump’s Senate trial, which could convene as early as next week.
The Hill reports that McConnell does not have the votes right now, and would have to wheel and deal to get the simple majority — and that’s only if “moderate” GOP Senators like Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and even Mitt Romney (R-UT) would be willing to hear him out. Collins and Murkowski aren’t even a lock on witnesses; the pair said that, while they plan to vote “no” on the Democrats’ proposal to allow testimony at the Senate trial before it begins, they reserve the right to vote “yes” on a measure to allow witnesses after both parties, the White House and the House Intelligence Committee, make their opening statements.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) told MSNBC that he has a coalition of at least five Senators — the ones mentioned above, plus Colorado’s Cory Gardner — who will stand firm against McConnell if the Senate Majority Leader presses dismissing the articles of impeachment without first putting the issue to trial.
“I think our members generally are not interested in a motion to dismiss….Certainly there aren’t 51 votes for a motion to dismiss,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told reporters Monday.
MSNBC also reported Tuesday that McConnell will hold off on any vote to dismiss the articles of impeachment, both before and during the Senate trial, to avoid putting “vulnerable” GOP Senators facing re-election in a tight spot, in case Democrats, now resigned to the idea of an acquittal and, possibly, a trial where they can’t repair holes left in their case from the House inquiry, are planning to use a dismissal vote as campaign fodder.
“It’s pretty clear to me that this is no longer about convicting and removing Donald Trump as president,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters. “This is about Chuck Schumer getting 2020 Republican incumbents in two tough voting situations. So I think recognizing that that’s his goal, I think it won’t surprise you that we’re thinking about that too, and how to avoid that as much as possible.”