Ukrainegate Has Begun!

All ninety-nine members of the United States Senate were sworn in as impeachment jurors yesterday by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts for what is only the third trial of an American president in history.  For the first time since 1999 Senators are restricted to stay in their seats, silent and attentive without the use of any electronic devices as the House of Representatives’ appointed managers present their case against the President.  The trial is expected to take about a week and to return a vote of acquittal for the President, partially because the two thirds (sixty-six voting Aye) bar is so high, and also because the Republicans maintain a slight advantage in the Senate of 52-48.  No American president has ever been removed from office by impeachment in our over two hundred thirty year existence as a sovereign country.

The only real mystery at this juncture is whether four Republican senators will join every Democratic member and vote to allow witnesses to testify, such as former Secretary of Defense John Bolton who was summarily dismissed by President Trump last fall after referring to Ukrainegate as “that drug deal.”  The President may try to claim executive privilege to prohibit Bolton from testifying.  Republican Senators Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska have indicated an interest in hearing from witnesses.  A simple majority of 51 voting affirmatively for additional testimony would provide much more public theater to the impeachment trial than is otherwise expected at this juncture.