Election 2020: Day 66

One of my favorite albums as a teenager in the mid-80s was REO Speedwagon’s Wheels Are Turnin’. It’s best remembered today for the #1 hit “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” although personally I preferred the lesser hit singles “One Lonely Night” and “I Do’Wanna Know”. The album ends with the title track, whose opening stanza goes:

I’ve been sittin’ back quietly

Watchin’ as my spirit fades

As all of my attempts to do rightly

Get treated like some kind of terrorist raids

And then later the bridge, going into the chorus, goes:

When you’re cut down to the bone

You bleed but it heels

You’re hurt but still you must carry on

‘Cuz the wheels are turnin’…

I feel like that’s where we are right now.

My wife commented to me tonight that she actually felt more traumatic about events yesterday, the day after the insurrection, than she did the day of — because yesterday it seemed like all of these terrible things had happened and yet nothing was happening swiftly in reaction to it. But today, it seems like the wheels are turnin’ again.

Late yesterday Education Secretary DeVos announced that she would resign, effective today. There was criticism of her from the left today, to the effect that resigning from the Cabinet was an act of cowardice, relative to the alternative of remaining on the Cabinet and fighting to invoke the 25th Amendment. In response, there is reporting today that DeVos resigned after concluding that Pence was unwilling to pursue action under the 25th Amendment. Pence himself is maintaining radio silence on the subject.

Instead, momentum is building towards impeachment. Pelosi said in a letter today that if Trump does not resign immediately, the House will commence impeachment proceedings, reportedly on Monday. A draft article of impeachment has been released, where the sole article is “incitement of insurrection,” focusing on the events of January 6th but also bringing up the January 2nd call between Trump and Raffensperger (which in and of itself arguably represents grounds for impeachment) as relevant context.

Tonight the Washington Post has a story about a McConnell memo regarding how the Senate might respond to a new House impeachment action, and it’s fascinating. Apparently under Senate rules, it would require unanimous consent in order for the Senate to take up any “new business” next week, and one imagines there is at least one Republican Senator who could be convinced to object to starting an impeachment trial next week. As such, McConnell envisions that the earliest an impeachment trial could commence is an hour after Biden’s inauguration.

On the one hand, that means that the impeachment path would not lead to the eviction of a sitting President, which would mean Trump would remain in office for another 12 days, could still exercise his pardon power during that time, etc. Which could suggest impeachment is pointless.

Except, on some level the more important reasons to impeach Trump are: first, setting the precedent that this type of behavior is unacceptable; and second, making Trump ineligible to run for President in the future. And this is where delaying the trial until Trump is out of office might actually increase the likelihood that the necessary two-thirds majority of the Senate to convict could be obtained. One imagines there is a subset of Republican Senators who are concerned about the optics among their constituents of forcibly removing Trump from office, but might be willing to take symbolic action against Trump after his term was completed, particularly if doing so helped clear the Republican primary field for 2024…

Earlier today Senator Murkowski became the first Republican Senator to say that Trump should resign. Her interview also suggested that she is less than fully committed to remaining part of the Republican party.

Another productive piece of news today is that Twitter finally gave a permanent ban to Trump’s account. Also, Perdue finally conceded to Ossoff, about two days after media organizations had called the election.