Elaine Kamarck, Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings Institution joined Yahoo Finance to discuss the Second impeachment of Donald J. Trump.
ADAM SHAPIRO: We want to keep talking about the historic moment we’ve just witnessed and where we go from here with Elaine Kamarck. She’s a senior fellow in the Governance Studies Program, as well as the director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution. Elaine, thank you for joining us. We understand that it’s historic. It’s never happened before. What happens next?
ELAINE KAMARCK: Well, what happens next, according to the Constitution, is the House sends the Articles of Impeachment over to the Senate. They have appointed already an impeachment manager, Congressman Jamie Raskin from Maryland. And, as was just reported, Senator McConnell will not call the House back– or the Senate into session earlier.
So on as early as the morning of January 19, a trial could begin. Now, it probably won’t start that early because, of course, the president’s people are entitled to some time to mount a defense. And that usually will take some time. So we’re looking at an impeachment trial that perhaps starts hours before the president, new president is inaugurated, or sometime after the new president is inaugurated. It’s very strange and clearly has never happened before.
SEANA SMITH: Elaine, this is very strange, and it has never happened before, again, the first time that a president has been impeached twice. When we take into account what is likely or what you expect to happen in the Senate when it gets there, what– I guess what do you think is the most probable at this point from what we know?
ELAINE KAMARCK: Well, it’s interesting, because a lot of that depends on what happens literally in the next week. And because– follow me here– if, in fact in the next week, we see a mobilization of the mob that we saw last week at the Capitol, if we see violent people coming to Washington with weapons, with military gear, intending to have a fight with the soldiers that are already there, then I think this may push a lot of Republican senators towards conviction. And, of course, as was reported, Senator McConnell, the leader of the Republicans, is undecided on how he will vote.
If, on the other hand, the temperature in the country goes down, if, in fact, there’s a peaceful period of time now between now and the Inauguration– nobody’s shot, nobody’s killed, there’s not a military assault on the Capitol– this may also take away some of the urgency of voting to convict the president. To convict, they need 17 Republican senators to vote to convict. So far, there’s about four that I would count on.
On the other hand, and this is critical– there are 12 members of the Senate who did not go along with the objections raised to the Electoral College vote and who also have just been re-elected. So think about this– if you have just been re-elected, you’re not up 2026, that, of course, is a lifetime in politics. And some of these people may decide that whatever blowback they get from Trump supporters in their states, by 2026, we will be on to another conversation. So there’s a potential here that this could get to 17 votes.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Elaine, what kind of discussions are taking place, perhaps, between Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, as well as leadership behind the scenes that we’re not privy to?
ELAINE KAMARCK: Well, the first behind-the-scenes discussion was when was the House going to send over the Articles of Impeachment. And the reason that’s important is that the Constitution says once the articles arrive in the Senate, the Senate has to stop all other business and attend to them. And we’re in this peculiar situation where a lot of Democrats, even though they want to see the president convicted, they think he’s done some pretty terrible things, they also want Joe Biden to get on with his agenda, especially another COVID relief bill, most important.
So the Democrats are torn. And I think the backroom discussions have evolved around the question of when were those articles going to arrive. And I think it’s pretty clear that they will be sent before the 19th.
But also, once they arrive, is there some way the parliamentarian can work out so that the Senate can do the trial and also do other business? And I think that is the question. McConnell, the other day, referred that question to the parliamentarian of the Senate. And the parliamentarian of the Senate is going to have to figure out if there is a way to do that, because that will cover all the concerns, certainly of the Democrats and the incoming Biden administration.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Rick, are you muted?
RICK NEWMAN: I wonder if you could address [INAUDIBLE] that conviction in the Senate requires 2/3 of the senators who are present. That question about the senators who are present, I’ve seen some analysis suggesting that one ploy some Republicans could use is simply not to show up, which would lower the number of Republicans you would need to have 2/3 of a quorum. Is that– am I getting that right? And do you think that’s plausible?
ELAINE KAMARCK: Yeah, yeah, that’s plausible. And that’s correct. And it is certainly an option for some senators who may not want to put themselves in the position of voting to convict Trump and yet who are very unhappy with what’s going on and would be very happy to have Trump out of the scene.
Remember, there’s another aspect to this. After a vote to convict, there is a vote to bar the person convicted from holding federal office in the future. That vote, unlike the vote to convict, requires only a simple majority. And as you can imagine, I think for a variety of reasons, there probably are a fair number of Republican senators at this point who would just like to be rid of Donald Trump and be able to rebuild– rebuild their party in a post-Trump era.
SEANA SMITH: Elaine, you talk about rebuilding their party, but there’s still a lot of infighting. We heard it today from Congressman Jim Jordan. He was calling on Representative Liz Cheney’s removal from party leadership over her support for the impeachment. So when you see that type of infighting going on in the GOP, how will they– will they effectively be able to move forward as a unified group, do you think?
ELAINE KAMARCK: Well, I think that they’re g– I think they’re in for a period of time. I mean, I think they’re in for a period of time of fight– duking it out. And there will be votes on Cheney’s position, clearly.
She has done two things right now. She has established herself as the leader of the non-Trump Republican Party. There’s no doubt about it. She’s put herself in that position. And we’ll see what happens.
I mean, you could see a situation where the Trump piece of the party kind of loses support and Liz Cheney is the speaker of the House in some future year when Republicans regain the House. So she could be in a great position. Or she could be acted against by a lot of pro-Trump Republicans and lose her slot. I think this remains to be seen. But I think she has very, very forcefully established herself as someone to be reckoned with in the future of the Republican Party.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Elaine, as we wrap up, what are you looking for immediately, either from Mitch McConnell or some kind of statement that’s going to indicate to you where we might be headed next? Who and what are you looking for?
ELAINE KAMARCK: Well, as of– as of today, in a couple of minutes, this whole business moves to the Senate. So I think you’re looking– we’re looking at two things, or I’m going to be looking at two things. First of all, what does McConnell and the parliamentarian, what do they decide about the rules of procedure going forward? Will they, in fact, allow other business to happen while they are holding a trial on impeachment? The Constitution says you’re not supposed to do that. But there may be some way to do it.
The second thing I’m going to be looking towards is how many of this vote that I’m seeing, and you’re seeing on the screen, how many Republican Congressmen defected and voted with the Democrats? And then what is the situation in the Senate as we move towards a trial? Does it look like there will be more Republican defectors? And frankly, McConnell’s leadership here is absolutely crucial.
And then, as I said before, we’re looking at the next week. Is it a replay of last week in terms of the violence and the murders that went on? Or is it– are things calmed down and do things return to normal? Are the protests present but peaceful and nonviolent? Those three things I would look at.
SEANA SMITH: Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in the Governance Studies Program, as well as the director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution, our thanks to you for joining today.
ELAINE KAMARCK: Thanks for having me.
House impeaches Trump for second time in 13 months – Yahoo Finance