John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


It Takes 67 to Tango

Posted on October 7, 2019
It takes 67 Senate votes to remove a President from office.

Under Article One, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.

In other words, Susan Collins, Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney, and 10 other Senators can vote to impeach President Trump, and it would have no impact on whether he stays in office or not.

There are not 10 other Republican Senators who could safely go home and show their faces to their constituents if they voted to remove Donald Trump from office.

In fact, you can make the case that if Susan Collins were to vote to convict Trump, it might be a good vote for her to show her independence, ala Margaret Chase Smith. But this is the same state that had Paul LePage as its governor. So good luck with that.

Nancy Pelosi surely knows that her efforts to impeach President Trump are doomed for failure. She also knows that despite the most fervent wishes of the vast majority of the Washington establishment, Mr. Trump is not going to pull a Nixon and resign.

I happen to think that the smartest move for her politically is to push for a bipartisan censure of President Trump.

I don’t have any real worries about the President’s phone call with the President of Ukraine, but I am in the distinct minority when it comes to Washington-based Republicans.

Many Republicans I know want to send a message to the President to knock of the self-inflicted mistakes. His phone calls with foreign leaders are not like phone calls with celebrities who once appeared on “The Apprentice”. Lots and lots of people listen to those phone calls, some of them who have the President’s back, but most who do not, including members of our intelligence services and his counterpart’s intelligence services.

It’s kind of like the old telephone party lines, except in this instance, some of the party people are from the Communist parties of old.

I happen to think that the President has the right to say whatever he wants on these calls. He won the White House, fair and square, and he is the President. I don’t particularly care if some diplomat somewhere, or a government bureaucrat or a foreign leader is offended by the President’s language or crassness or even if he wants help in rooting out corruption.

He is the President. He won fair and square. And if the voters don’t like what he is saying or doing, they can kick him out of office a year from November.

But the Congress doesn’t necessarily have to like or appreciate the tone or the substance of the President’s calls and they may deem it to be so offensive that it requires them going on the record in protest.

But impeachment is a mighty big sledge-hammer to swing as a way to protest.

I worked for the House Leadership when they sought to impeach Bill Clinton for lying under oath about him having sex with an intern in the Oval Office. At the time, House Democrats floated a censure resolution that would have expressed the country’s collective disgust at the President’s clearly immoral conduct.

I supported censure at the time (as a staffer who had a limited voice in the debate), as did Lindsay Graham.

A censure would have sent a bipartisan message that the President’s conduct was unacceptable, it would have divided Democrats (some of whom supported the President, but many who didn’t), it would have dispensed with the long-drawn-out investigation that yielded many gory details, and most importantly, it would have allowed the Congress to get back to the important work of the American people.

Impeachment has become a kind of censure in this day of intense partisanship. The Legislative Branch is way too divided to come to a consensus on something as serious as removing a duly-elected President from office.

But I am pretty certain that the partisanship that has overwhelmed the Democrats in the era of Trump will make censure impossible.

And so here is my prediction. The House will move articles of impeachment by Thanksgiving.

The Republicans and the President will raise tons of money from the impeachment fiasco and run ads about it in districts held by Democrats but won by Trump in 2016. The ads will accuse the Democrats and the political class of trying to subvert the election and covering up for Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Those ads will be an indictment of all politicians who feather their nests and the nests of their Family Members.

And the ads will hurt Joe Biden, just as he is trying to gain momentum in early primary states.

The Democrats will then attempt to pivot to protect these vulnerable Members and they will work to get as many Presidential signatures on as many accomplishments as possible.

Sure, those accomplishments might help the President in his reelection bid, but to Nancy Pelosi, those accomplishments are really the only way to protect her more-vulnerable-than-commonly-understood majority.

Amid all this deal-cutting, the progressive base will give the nomination to Elizabeth Warren, who will trounce both Biden and Bernie Sanders. Kamala Harris will be offered the chance to run as Warren’s running mate and she will accept, after losing in her home state of California.

Impeachment won’t be fun for this President or his staff, but it will largely be a Washington phenomenon. Nothing the President does or says is surprising to the vast majority of the American people who live outside the beltway and who have grown used to his unconventional ways.

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