Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., head of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Activities (JCCIC), speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, as construction continues on the Inaugural platform in preparation for the Inauguration and swearing-in ceremonies for President-elect Donald Trump. Trump will be sworn in a president on Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) spoke to reporters on Monday following a closed-door meeting with Senate leaders. “I think our members generally are not interested in a motion to dismiss…Certainly, there aren’t 51 votes for a motion to dismiss.”
Given that there are 53 Republican Senators and more than two of them are opposed to a motion to dismiss the articles of impeachment, it is almost certain that a trial will be held. Several Republicans have already expressed their opposition to a motion to dismiss including Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Rob Portman (OH). Other likely candidates might include Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK), Cory Gardner (CO) and Mitt Romney (UT).
Initially, President Trump welcomed the prospect of a Senate trial because it would provide him with an opportunity to defend himself and put the Democrats on trial. In a Sunday tweet, President Trump signaled he’s reconsidered that position. He 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!”
It sounds as if he’s been listening to the advice of former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) who has often said, when it comes to litigation, less is more, shorter is better and it’s a good idea to try to minimize uncertainty. A defendant should try to reduce the chances of “surprises” in a legal proceeding. This is to say, a motion to dismiss is best. Failing that, a short trial is better than a long trial because there’s less opportunity for unknowns. In a discussion earlier this month with Fox News’ Ed Henry, Gowdy said, “I don’t like surprises. Don’t inject any witnesses that you don’t know what they’re going to say. You need to know the answers before the witness says a word. To the extent there’s uncertainty, don’t call the witnesses.”
Senate Republicans are currently working on a rules resolution for the trial. According to The Hill, some Senators “have suggested the resolution will not include a specific motion to dismiss. That would not, according to aides and senators, prevent a senator from trying to make a motion to dismiss during the trial. The resolution on the Clinton impeachment trial rules in the 1990s had a motion to dismiss built into it. The motion, made after opening arguments and questions from senators, was ultimately unsuccessful.”
The House will vote on impeachment managers soon and is expected to submit the articles of impeachment to the Senate by the end of the week.