January 14, 2020
While, in the run-up to the impeachment trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has appeared to be unflinching in his support of President Donald Trump, he should not underestimate his political rival, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Politico reports.
Indeed, although McConnell already has locked up enough Republican votes to ignore demands for a bipartisan framework for the trial, his Democratic counterpart is preparing a counteroffensive. Schumer plans to force a series of votes designed to squeeze vulnerable Republicans and harm them on the campaign trail if they side with Trump, the news outlet says.
Democrats argue the half-dozen at-risk GOP senators will need some daylight between them and Trump to get reelected. And if they vote against Schumer’s motions to hear new evidence and witness testimony, they’ll be seen as Trump sycophants — undermining their bids and boosting Schumer’s odds of becoming majority leader.
Support for obtaining new documents at the trial is “even stronger than we thought, with large numbers of Republicans supporting it,” Schumer said in an interview with Politico. “And when you go against what the American people feel strongly about, on an issue they’re paying attention to, it’s not a good idea.”
Public surveys in key swing states back up Democrats’ claims. Polling from Hart Research found that 63% of voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina would react unfavorably if their senator voted against calling witnesses or subpoenaing documents during the Senate impeachment trial.
What’s more, the president’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s offer to testify has given some momentum to Democrats’ calls for witnesses and documents about the White House’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine. Democrats also want to hear from Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey, and Mulvaney Adviser Robert Blair.
“If the Republicans ram through process that ultimately leads to no witnesses, I think they do it at their own peril,” Senator Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), a former chairman of the party’s campaign arm, told Politico. “Some of these members: They have an audience of one. But I think they forgot that there’s a broader audience that they’re going to have to face at election time.”
“The procedural votes may be more important than the vote on removal or acquittal. Because what will matter more to voters than where a senator lands is how he or she got there,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster for Hart Research. “So if Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) or any of the other Republicans vote for acquittal and the takeaway for voters is this is a political or partisan vote on an important issue, that will have a long lasting impact.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she will release the articles of impeachment to McConnell this week.
Research contact: @politico