Sanders Supporters Float Trial Balloon to Torpedo Impeachment of Donald Trump

This morning, Peter Daou, famous Twitter personality and recent Bernie Sanders grifter convert, posted this on Twitter:

The argument, on its face, is specious. The idea that Democrats need to hurry up and wrap the public impeachment hearings already when support for removal seems to be at least steady at a majority of the public is more than a little suspect. At least it should be if you aren't a Republican. The polling numbers show that after six weeks of depositions and just two days of public hearing, 70% of Americans believe what Trump did in attempting to bribe and extort a foreign government into conducting fake investigations into American domestic political affairs was wrong, and 57% of Americans believe that Trump should at least be impeached (6% believe he should be impeached but not removed).

It is rather odd that the Left, after chewing Speaker Pelosi out for the better part of a year for not holding formal impeachment hearings, would be now hurrying to wrap it up. Not moving the needle? Not a plausible excuse. It's obvious that Democrats aren't losing any points, and not just in opinion polls. Democrats crashed through the media narrative that impeachment would hurt Democrats at the ballot box by winning a trifecta in Virginia, flipping the governorship in Kentucky (a Trump +30 state) and retaining the governorship in Louisiana, a state Trump won by 20 points.

So even if one believed that Democrats have yet to meaningfully "move the needle" on public opinion - though I note that support for impeachment has gotten a large boost since earlier in the year - it is obvious that there is no real problems to taking the time to conclude the inquiry properly. What, after all, is the downside?

The downside, of course, for Bernie Sanders's supporters, is not about whether Democrats as a whole are moving the needle or gaining or losing support. The problem they have is the primary calendar.

If the timeline Speaker Pelosi and House leaders have previewed plays out, articles of impeachment would be passed through the house at the end of the year, meaning that the trial in the Senate would be held in January. This means that Bernie Sanders's day job as a United States Senator would present an impossible choice: he could skip the campaign trail for the duration of the trial immediately before the Iowa caucuses, or he could skip the trial.

Skipping the campaign trail - as is the more likely option - could be devastating moreso for Sanders than for any other Democratic Senator who is running for president for two reasons: First, Sanders's campaign is much more a cult of personality than any other campaign. Despite his claims to build a movement, the campaign itself is built upon seeing Sanders as a savior, not a mere potential president.

Second, Iowa is more crucial to Sanders than to other Democratic Senators, because his strength tends to reside within largely white populations and undemocratic caucus settings. This is also true of Elizabeth Warren, but perhaps to a lesser degree than it is with Sanders. Other senators either do not expect to do well in Iowa or have more strength in later, more diverse states further down the calendar. And if Bernie Sanders falters at building an early aura of viability, his weaker states - the more diverse ones - are more likely to be death-nails than mere storms he can weather.

So what if he just skips the trial? In the Senate, Bernie Sanders is largely a backbencher anyway. Three of Sanders's competitors who are also his Senate colleagues - Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar - are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the committee expected to lead and set the tone for the trial. Even among them, Harris has been far and away the best prosecutor on the committee, increasing the likelihood that her star will climb during the trial while Bernie is forced to be little more than a seatwarmer.

But Sanders can't really afford to skip the trial. The optics of skipping the most serious duty of a Senator - consider whether to remove a president from office - in order to campaign in Iowa will be disastrous. Sanders can't afford that. So he will be stuck in the Senate without being able to make much news.

And right as that reality is coming into view, his supporters are floating a trial balloon attempting to force House Democrats to hurry up the impeachment already, so Bernie can be free by January. Damn the impeachment inquiry. Damn doing it properly and laying out a record for posterity. Damn making it difficult for Republicans to defend their eventual vote to keep Trump in office. Damn it all. All hat matters is that Bernie not be "distracted" from the campaign.

This is a shameless, crass, cold, and calculated political push. It will not work.

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