President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial will begin in the Senate this week, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is leading the team of House managers who will serve as prosecutors in the case. Schiff, readers will recall, was the effective leader of the highly partisan and one-sided impeachment inquiry in the House that resulted in the articles of impeachment against the president.
No doubt with recollections of Schiff’s shenanigans in mind, Senate Republicans have reportedly included a “kill switch” in their impeachment trial rules package that, according to Breitbart, would allow “the president’s legal team to seek an immediate verdict or dismissal of the case” if Democrats start acting up.
Coming in for the “kill”
News of the included option was first reported on Saturday by Axios, which cited Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).
“I am familiar with the resolution as it stood a day or two ago,” Hawley told Axios reporter Jonathan Swan by phone on Saturday. “My understanding is that the resolution will give the president’s team the option to either move to judgment or to move to dismiss at a meaningful time.”
While it is unclear exactly what would constitute a “meaningful time” for such an option to be deployed, Hawley seemed to offer up an idea — and confirm that his quote was legitimate — when he shared the Axios article on Twitter on Sunday.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) January 19, 2020
The Axios article also cited an unnamed Senate Republican leadership aide — presumably a staffer close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — who explained the measure further.
“The White House has the right to make motions under the regular order, including a motion to dismiss, right after the resolution is adopted because a motion to dismiss is a motion permitted by the impeachment rules,” the GOP aide told Swan.
Schiff should be on his best behavior
In weeks prior, there had been some discussions among a segment of Senate Republicans about moving to immediately dismiss the articles of impeachment without a trial — but it has become increasingly clear that such a move is highly unlikely to happen, meaning there will be a trial of some sort.
However, the reported inclusion of this “kill switch” suggests that the dismissal option hasn’t been taken completely off the table. Instead, it’s being wielded as a tool to keep Schiff and company on their best behavior.
In other words, if Schiff and his cohorts start trying to play partisan games or work to transform the trial into a circus-like affair, the option is there for Trump’s team and Senate Republicans to pull the rug out from under the Democrats and shut down the show in an instant.
Wouldn’t that be a sight to see?