Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Oh dear, we're talking about this again:
A small group of vulnerable House Democrats is floating the longshot idea of censuring President Donald Trump instead of impeaching him, according to multiple lawmakers familiar with the conversations.

Those Democrats, all representing districts that Trump won in 2016, huddled on Monday afternoon in an 11th-hour bid to weigh additional — though unlikely — options to punish the president for his role in the Ukraine scandal as the House speeds toward an impeachment vote next week....

The idea of censure, according to the lawmakers, is to offer a competing alternative to impeachment that could attract at least some Republican support on the floor.
It wouldn't attract any Republican support. How naive do you have to be not to realize that now? The president has made it clear that you can't acknowledge any error on his part in the Ukraine situation and still be considered a Republican in good standing. He would lobby heavily to prevent Republican votes for censure, and he would make it his life's work to drive any Republican who voted for censure out of the party, just as he drove out Justin Amash when Amash declared himself open to impeachment. No Republican would break ranks. Why would they? Why would they agree to chastise their presidential nominee at the outset of his reelection campaign?

If censure passed the House -- even if I'm wrong and there were a couple of GOP votes -- there's no reason to believe it would pass the Senate. Again I would expect no Republican votes. But if it could pass, I stand by what I wrote in June, when Peggy Noonan proclaimed that the Senate would actually vote for censure:
... if a censure resolution somehow had the votes, Mitch McConnell would simply not bring it to the floor. He might feel that he has to have at least a pro forma trial in the Senate if the House impeaches -- Senate impeachment trials are in the Constitution -- but censure isn't in the Constitution. Nothing requires McConnell to consider it. He'd bottle it up.
If censure could pass the Senate, the entire party would be blamed for the passage, even if it resulted from a handful of GOP defections. No Republican -- will choose to inflame the party's voters that way.

So censure won't happen. Why discuss it?

Impeachment, as it's evolving, is weak sauce -- an avoidance of the easy-to-understand word "bribery," no mention of Russia, no mention of emoluments -- and it will be over nearly a year before the election. That's what Nancy Pelosi has engineered in order to protect swing-district Democrats, whose voters have been conditioned to be angry about impeachment, while still satisfying the desire of committed Democratic voters to see the president held to account. Pelosi didn't want impeachment at all, but as The Intercept's Ryan Grim noted in September, the party realized that failing to impeach risked alienating the committed Democrats who keep campaigns going with their volunteer work and donations. So we got an impeachment, but one that will start and end early enough to be flushed down the memory hole by next November, as a gift to swing-district House members. Those members shouldn't ask for more compromise, especially when a censure effort is certain to fail.

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