Republicans don’t have enough votes for ‘outright dismissal’ of impeachment articles, GOP senator says

January 14, 2020

There has been talk among some of President Donald Trump’s supporters and even some Senate Republicans about summarily dismissing the House-passed articles of impeachment without holding a trial — particularly if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) continues to delay transmitting the articles to the Senate for their consideration.

It’s an unlikely scenario because the Republicans are short on votes for a dismissal, according to one GOP senator.

Not enough votes to dismiss

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the number four leader among Senate Republicans, told reporters on Monday that he didn’t believe there was the requisite 51-vote majority among his fellow Republicans to support a measure to dismiss the articles of impeachment without a trial.

“I think our members generally are not interested in a motion to dismiss. … Certainly, there aren’t 51 votes for a motion to dismiss,” he said following a closed-door hearing with other Republican leaders.

Given that there are only 53 Republicans in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — who has been ambivalent on the topic of outright dismissal — could only afford to lose two votes and still be able to move forward.

Two Republican senators are already on record as opposing dismissal — Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio — and there are quite likely more Republicans who would come out in opposition of such a move.

Trump calls for dismissal

McConnell has suggested on occasion over the past several weeks that he was open to the idea of a move to dismiss the articles without a trial, and even signed on as a co-sponsor of a measure put forward by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) that would dismiss the House-passed articles “with prejudice” for non-prosecution if Pelosi continued to refuse to transmit them to the Senate.

President Trump has signaled his support for an outright dismissal, most recently in a tweet posted on Sunday.

Trump wrote, “Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crime, read the transcripts, ‘no pressure’ Impeachment Hoax, rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have. I agree!”

Dismissal could still be considered during trial

All of that said, it does seem unlikely that the articles of impeachment will be dismissed without a trial — assuming, of course, that Pelosi ever gets around to sending them to the Senate.

However, given the fact that the rules for the impending trial for Trump are being modeled after the rules for the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton, the topic of dismissal probably won’t be going away entirely, as the Clinton rules had a built-in motion for dismissal that took place following opening statements and questions from senators.

Whether that old rule is kept as part of the new rules package remains to be seen and, again, all of this is just pure speculation unless Pelosi actually does her part and forwards the articles to the Senate.

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Ben Marquis

Ben Marquis is a staff writer for Conservative Institute.