Democratic Rep. Lieu calls procession of impeachment article ‘historic’

But the Senate impeachment trial itself won’t get underway for two more weeks as senators get to work filling up Joe Biden’s Cabinet and — perhaps — giving him the tools he needs to lead the country through the pandemic. (Here’s where things stand on that.)
The Supreme Court wants to move on. When the trial does get underway, one important no-show is expected to be Chief Justice John Roberts, who normally has a duty under the Constitution to preside over a presidential impeachment trial. This time, however, since Trump is a former president, Roberts will skip the proceedings and Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chamber’s ranking Democrat, will hold the gavel.
Roberts’ court also declined Monday to hear whether Trump’s hotels in DC and New York accepting money from foreign governments violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause — because the question about a president being enriched by foreigners is moot since voters have already shown Trump the door. Read more about emoluments.

Republican lawmakers want to move on. The refrain growing on Capitol Hill among Republicans is not so much that Trump’s incitement of the mob that stormed the US Capitol was good conduct. It’s why bother with this impeachment trial?

“I think so many are getting confused by the fact that we’re doing this,” said Indiana Republican Sen. Mike Braun, the Indiana Republican.

It seems clear there will be Republicans who support convicting Trump in the first-ever post-presidential impeachment — Utah Sen. and former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney? Maine Sen. Susan Collins? Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse? — but the number, for now, appears to be on track to fall well short of the necessary 17 to reach the necessary two-thirds majority.

There must be accountability. Romney, the one senator who broke with Trump on the Ukraine impeachment last year, certainly sounds like he could ultimately vote to convict Trump again.

“And, you know, if we’re going to have unity in our country, I think it’s important to recognize the need for accountability, for truth and justice,” he said on Fox News Sunday, arguing there is a need for a Senate trial.

Partisanship sucks, but… Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is among the shrinking group of senators who has wanted to appear open to compromise legislation, although he has always found a way to vote with his team. Announcing Monday he wouldn’t run for reelection in 2022, Portman made clear that partisan bickering was the main reason. An impeachment trial won’t help cure that, even if Trump’s actions demanded it.

The evidence suggests Trumpism isn’t going anywhere quite yet. Trump fled Washington before Biden’s inauguration and is now ensconced at Mar-a-Lago. The Washington Post reported that he has floated the idea of forming his own MAGA political party — in part to keep Republican senators in line during this second impeachment.
Arizona, which used to be the home of modern conservatism, is an instructive example. The state party reelected Trump follower Kelli Ward to run the state party despite Trump’s loss there, going 0-2 in recent US Senate races and shrinking party registrations. Arizona is at least purple but the party is not seeking middle ground. In addition to keeping Ward as its leader, party members voted to publicly censure Cindy McCain, widow of former Sen. John McCain, and former Sen. Jeff Flake, for supporting Biden, as well as Gov. Doug Ducey for enacting Covid restrictions.

Out with the old. While Mitch McConnell might quietly be hoping to purge Trump from the GOP, there’s a much louder effort to purge Republicans who opposed the insurrection and cast blame upon Trump.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz told reporters Monday that he plans to fly to Wyoming to personally campaign against Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, maintaining her leadership role. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he has concerns about her leadership capability.
In with the new. Republicans who supported contesting electoral votes even after the insurrection — Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, for instance, or North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn — have more forcefully defended their position. Hawley wrote in the New York Post that he’s actually the victim in all this. Cawthorn tried to explain his position to CNN’s Pamela Brown over the weekend, arguing he wasn’t trying to reject electoral votes when he voted to reject electoral votes. He was just raising awareness about constitutional issues, and he now accepts Biden’s victory, he said.
Next act. Trump’s former press secretary, Sarah Sanders, meanwhile, is the first of his top former aides to announce her own campaign. She’s running for the job once held by her dad, Arkansas governor.
For Trump, whether he remains a national political pariah could be affecting his home life. Read this CNN Business report about Mar-a-Lago members fleeing the pricey club ($200,000 per year) now that it’s not owned by the sitting president.
Investigations continue. But even as impeachment moves ahead, the government is continuing to unpick what happened on January 6, arresting people who were at the Capitol and advertising for tips. And the Department of Justice’s inspector general publicly announced an investigation into whether anyone at the department acted improperly with regard to the 2020 election, after a series of scoops by the New York Times about the role played by Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark.

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