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A Secret Senate Vote on Impeachment?

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Juleanna Glover offers a surprising scenario in Politico Magazine: There’s a Surprisingly Plausible Path to Removing Trump From Office. (She was an adviser to George W. Bush, among other Republicans.) She argues that there’s nothing in the Senate rules that prevents it from requiring a secret vote on impeachment, and all it would take is 3 Republicans (plus all the Democrats and independents, of course):

Some might say transparency in congressional deliberations and votes is inviolable, and it’s true that none of the previous Senate impeachments have been conducted via secret ballot. But the Senate’s role in an impeachment is analogous to a U.S. jury, where secret ballots are often used. When Electoral College gridlock has resulted in the House picking the president—the House elected Thomas Jefferson in 1800 and John Quincy Adams in 1824—that vote has been secret. And, of course, when citizens vote for president, they do so in private.

Trump, of course, is counting on threats and fear to keep the GOP Senators in line; this would let them get around that. And there just might be enough GOP Senators willing to push for it:

Five sitting Republican senators have already announced their retirements; four of those are in their mid-70s or older and will never run for office again. They might well be willing to demand secrecy in order to give cover to their colleagues who would like to convict Trump but are afraid to do so because of politics in their home districts.

She brings up a comment from former Senator Jeff Flake: “I heard someone say if there were a private vote [on impeachment in the Senate] there would be 30 Republican votes. That’s not true. There would be at least 35.”

Eugene Robinson wrote this in his column today:

I know for a fact that many of them are fully aware of how dangerously unfit Trump is to serve as president. I also know they greatly fear his wrath. Unless public airing of the evidence causes Trump to lose support among the GOP rank-and-file — which is possible but far from guaranteed — the Senate has to be considered highly unlikely to vote for removal.

Cleaver argues that a secret vote might ultimately work out better for Trump, since it might encourage him to resign in exchange for avoiding prosecution. I think that unlikely; Trump is not going to agree to anything that makes him look bad (and he really thinks he can get away with it as he has done all his life) and NY AG Letitia James wants him to pay for his crimes.

But Cleaver also thinks McConnell might go along with a secret vote if he sees it as a way to protect his majority. It will, she says, protect vulnerable Senators who know Trump is a disaster but who are afraid that if they him out his base will abandon them — even if it means Democrats gets their seats. She cites a poll that McConnell is at 18% in Kentucky, but that was from 2017. An RCP poll taken last month (10/6- 11/5), however, does show him at 24% favorable.  He has a formidable Democratic challenger this time and Gov. Bevin just lost (admittedly, there were multiple factors at play there, but even so it has to be keeping Moscow Mitch awake at night).

I’m in Egypt on vacation right now (I took that photo this morning), but we’re free for the rest of the day and, political junkie that I am, I just had to check the news. So now I’m posting this to see what the DK community in its collective wisdom thinks of this way out. Personally, I’m not willing to discount the idea, and I think it would be legal, but I don’t have a good sense of whether there’s any real chance it will happen. So, what say ye?

Masa’a al-kheir! (Have a good evening!)