‘If the trial’s in December, if the trial’s in January, if the trial’s in February, we’re going to have to be here…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., were among those in the current Democratic field who said they would support impeaching President Donald Trump before the House introduced its formal inquiry.
Now, they’re backed into a corner.
Practically speaking, support for Trump’s impeachment could hurt the Democratic senators running for president, according to a number of political operatives.
The actual timeline of an impeachment trial in the Senate would affect their presidential campaigns even more than the politics of it, said Jason Johnson, the chief political strategist for the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
“It would be a disaster,” he told NPR, noting that Warren, Harris, and the other senators will need to be in Washington, in the Senate, acting as jurors during the Senate’s impeachment trial right before the 2020 election.
Should House Democrats choose to drag out their ongoing impeachment inquiry until 2020, Warren, Harris, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, New Jersey’s Cory Booker and Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar will be among the current contenders who are stuck in Congress instead of campaigning in battleground states.
With several serving as members of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, the proceedings likely would command their full attention.
“I can’t think of more devastating news if you’re running one of these campaigns for president than the news that your candidate is going to be bound to a desk in Washington, day after day, in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses,” said David Axelrod, a Democratic strategist who advised former President Barrack Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Of course, they don’t really have a choice since their attendance is constitutionally mandatory.
“If the trial’s in December, if the trial’s in January, if the trial’s in February, we’re going to have to be here,” Harris told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that if impeachment goes to trial, senators will need to convene “every day, six days out of seven.”
Warren already has begun to make excuses for her upcoming absences, assuring voters that impeachment must take precedent.
“Some things are more important than politics,” Warren told NPR. “We have a responsibility here. And it’s not something I take any pleasure in, but it’s something that has to be done. So I’ll be there.”
On the upside, Axelrod said that, if anything, an impeachment trial could secure “a lot of TV time” for the presidential candidates, who have long complained that Trump’s deftness as a publicity hound gives him an inherent advantage.
However, added Axelrod, “the bad news is you’re going to have a lot of TV time talking about stuff that may not be what these voters are most interested in hearing.”