On Wednesday, Donald Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. As expected, the House voted mostly along party lines to pass two articles of impeachment. The first, on abuse of power, passed 230 to 197; the second, on obstruction of Congress, 229 to 198. Next, the articles of impeachment move to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that Republicans will clear the president on any charges he faces. And that's exactly why Democrats don't plan to send the articles to the Senate.
Speaking to reporters after the vote Wednesday night, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, "We will make our decision as to when we are going to send it when we see what they are doing on the Senate side. So far, we have not seen anything that looks fair to us." She added, "It reminded me that our founders, when they wrote the Constitution, they suspected there could be a rogue president. I don’t think they suspected we could have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time." She's since clarified that she'll send the articles once there's a plan in the Senate.
Pelosi has reason to be suspicious that Senate Republicans won't treat the impeachment hearing objectively, especially since they keep admitting that they won't. South Carolina senator and vocal Trump devotee Lindsey Graham has said as much in multiple interviews, making claims like,"This thing will come to the Senate, and it will die quickly, and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly. I'm not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here." He's also said, "I am clearly made up [in] my mind," and "I'm not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations in the process." And Wednesday night he reiterated himself, saying he intends to be "very closed-minded" about the process.
The guidelines for impeachment are not concrete, and Pelosi is technically free to hold on to the articles for now. An adviser to McConnell, Josh Holmes, claims the delay as a win for the majority leader, writing, "Folks, this might be the greatest compliment McConnell has ever received. They are seriously entertaining holding a grenade with the pin pulled rather than facing what happens when they send it over McConnell’s wall." McConnell himself, speaking Thursday, said, "This particular House of Representatives has let its partisan rage at this particular president create a toxic new precedent that will echo well into the future."
Graham, on the other hand, doesn't seem nearly as optimistic. In a series of tweets on Thursday morning, he lambasted Democrats:
If House Dems refuse to send Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for trial it would be a breathtaking violation of the Constitution, an act of political cowardice, and fundamentally unfair to President @realdonaldTrump. Not allowing the Senate to act on approved Articles of Impeachment becomes Constitutional extortion and creates chaos for the presidency. It also sets in motion a tremendous threat to our Constitutional system of checks and balances.
Graham's outrage over an opposition party being "unfair" to a president and "[creating] chaos for the presidency" is a surprising turn, especially after he uncomplainingly went along with McConnell's scheme to steal a Supreme Court seat from Barack Obama in the last year of his presidency. The refusal to even hold a hearing for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland was a shocking, literally unprecedented maneuver for the more common process of appointing Supreme Court justices.
McConnell has already announced that he's in no rush to hold the impeachment trial in the Senate, and hadn't planned to until after the holidays. Once he does hold it, he plans to complete it quickly and with minimal witnesses and testimony. It's not clear how Pelosi's delay changes the calculus in the Republican-controlled Senate. But Pelosi has tightly orchestrated the House Democrats' impeachment strategy, and it's unlikely that she doesn't have her reasons for controlling the process.
As the 2020 elections draw nearer, purple-state senators have tough choices to make.
Originally Appeared on GQ