GOP Senator Setting Up To Dismiss Impeachment Articles


If Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has his way, President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial could be over before it begins.

In a series of tweets on Thursday night, the first-term Missouri senator said he would move to dismiss the “bogus” charges based on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to turn the impeachment over to the Senate until Republicans in the upper chamber agree to call witnesses in the Trump administration.

In the tweets, Hawley blasted House Democrats for claiming impeachment was urgent and then slow-rolling the transfer of the articles to the Senate.

”Now they don’t want to have a trial, because they have no evidence,” Hawley wrote.

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“In real world, if prosecution doesn’t proceed with case, it gets dismissed. So on Monday, I will introduce measure to dismiss this bogus impeachment for lack of prosecution.”

“This will expose Dems’ circus for what it is: a fake impeachment, abuse of the Constitution, based on no evidence,” he added.

“If Dems won’t proceed with trial, bogus articles should be dismissed and [President Trump] fully cleared,” Hawley said.

Hawley also said the motion would “update Senate impeachment rules to account for this unprecedented attempt to obstruct Senate trial.”

As Chrissy Clark noted at The Federalist, Hawley is essentially proposing that by not turning over the articles of impeachment to the Senate, Pelosi and House Democrats are engaging in failure to prosecute; in traditional civil law, if the prosecution “unreasonably neglects” a case, it’s subject to dismissal.

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Whether Hawley’s proposal gets any traction among Senate Republicans is another matter entirely. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already shot down the idea that the impeachment of Trump would end with a dismissal.

“I don’t think there’s any question that we have to take up the matter. The rules of impeachment are very clear, we’ll have to have a trial,” the Kentucky Republican said in November, according to The Hill. “My own view is that we should give people the opportunity to put the case on.”

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican close to McConnell, also said he didn’t anticipate a dismissal.

“There’s some people talking about trying to stop the bill, dismiss charges basically as soon as they get over here. I think that’s not going to happen. That would require 51 votes,” he said.

Instead, McConnell has been pushing for a trial using the rules for the 1999 impeachment of Bill Clinton. In that case, senators agreed to hear from both the prosecution and defense before deciding on whether or not witnesses ought to be called.

That said, the environment on Capitol Hill has changed in the intervening weeks, particularly after Democrats ratcheted up their demands to call witnesses following the release of unredacted White House emails.

Those emails included one from the associate director of national security at the Office of Management and Budget saying there was a “clear direction from POTUS to hold” Ukrainian aid.

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“The newly-revealed unredacted emails are a devastating blow to Senator McConnell’s push to have a trial without the documents and witnesses we’ve requested,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

“These emails further expose the serious concerns raised by Trump administration officials about the propriety and legality of the president’s decision to cut off aid to Ukraine to benefit himself,” the New York Democrat said.

The argument isn’t likely to sway many Republicans; Schumer was previously seen on Dec. 30 calling a New York Times report that top Trump advisers had warned him against freezing aid to Ukraine a “game changer.”

It wasn’t.

McConnell is likely to speak on the Senate floor on Friday in what will be the first major statement from the majority leader since the Christmas break commenced.

At that point, we’ll likely get a much better idea of where the Republicans in the upper chamber intend to go — and whether Hawley’s proposal to dismiss has gotten some traction.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture