Last Updated on December 11, 2019
Republicans are reportedly fed up with the monotony of impeachment and related media coverage and plan to call zero witnesses during President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment proceedings, fueling speculation that they may forego a trial and simply vote to acquit.
Statements from high-profile Republican senators indicate the GOP has no desire to pursue testimony from people were repeatedly blocked from being issued subpoenas by Democrats during the House investigation.
Senator John Barasso (R-Wyoming) stated: “At that point, I would expect that most members would be ready to vote and wouldn’t need more information,” because “Many people have their minds pretty well made up.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) echoed that sentiment: “Here’s what I want to avoid: This thing going on longer than it needs to. I want to end this.”
The intensely partisan and dubious nature of the impeachment criteria and the fact that a trial could interfere with legislators’ plans for the holiday season could also play a key role in Republicans deciding to acquit before Christmas.
Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) has said he is unsure what anyone gains from the impeachment trial once it devolves into “endless motions to call people.”
Impeachment is intensely unpopular in battleground states where both Republicans and Democrats could suffer electoral consequences by prioritizing impeachment over serious domestic issues.
A highly unlikely two-thirds majority would be needed to remove a President from office.
In impeachment proceedings, the House of Representatives charges an official of the federal government by approving, by majority vote, articles of impeachment. A committee of representatives, called “managers,” acts as prosecutors before the Senate. The Senate sits as a High Court of Impeachment in which senators consider evidence, hear witnesses, and vote to acquit or convict the impeached official. In the case of presidential impeachment trials, the chief justice of the United States presides. The Constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict, and the penalty for an impeached official upon conviction is removal from office. In some cases, the Senate has also disqualified such officials from holding public offices in the future. There is no appeal. Since 1789, about half of Senate impeachment trials have resulted in conviction and removal from office.