Posted by Curt on 18 December, 2019 at 6:14 pm. 3 comments already!


After a rushed and intense inquiry into the Ukraine affair, the House has voted to impeach President Trump. The vote was 230 to 197 for the first article of impeachment charging the president with abuse of power, and 229 to 198 for the second article charging him with obstruction of Congress.

For Republicans, the important numbers were zero and zero. Not a single Republican lawmaker voted for either article of impeachment.

For the GOP, it was important to show that impeachment is an entirely partisan, Democrats-only affair — and that is precisely what happened.

In a conversation a few hours before the vote, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise was confident of the outcome. “We’re going to have zero Republicans,” he said. I mentioned a name or two of Republicans who were thought to be wavering. Had Scalise talked to them?


Would they vote for impeachment?


“There’s a high confidence level,” Scalise explained, “because I communicate with members all the time.”

Scalise was right. The time to vote came, and every Republican stayed on board.

The vote mirrored the October 31 vote to endorse and set rules for the already-begun impeachment inquiry. That total was 232 to 196, with zero Republicans in favor.

“That was a pivotal moment,” Scalise said. “It showed that this is a partisan, personal attack against the president. If you had even one Republican voting for it, they could have claimed it was bipartisan. It was very critical that there were no Republican votes for it.”

And indeed there were none.
The Republican stance didn’t just happen. Scalise has been working for weeks to keep House Republicans up to speed on the rapidly-changing issues and positions in the Democratic impeachment drive. It was essential to keeping GOP lawmakers together.

Remember that in the early days, most members of the House were in the dark about what was happening in the inquiry. Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff held depositions in secret, in a secure room in the Capitol, and only members of the Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees were allowed to attend. Together, that is only 47 Republicans out of 197 GOP members of the House. A total of 150 Republicans had no access to anything.

That’s where Scalise, the party whip, came in. Relying on a model he had used earlier for complex legislation like tax reform, Scalise organized briefings for the majority of members who weren’t in the loop. It became especially important during impeachment.

“When the whistleblower complaint came out, Democrats were alleging all these sinister things by the president,” Scalise said. “A lot of our members starting having questions. It was hard to get facts.”

Scalise brought in Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, John Ratcliffe, Elise Stefanik, Lee Zeldin, and others who were playing key roles in the impeachment inquiry to brief rank-and-file members. Interest was high; sometimes as many as 100 members attended.

“I wanted to do that especially for impeachment because when Schiff was doing the secret depositions, a story would leak and then the hearing would be in secret,” Scalise said. “The story was already out, and the narrative was already out that something bad had happened. They’d be building it up as some bombshell, and our members did not know what was going on. I wanted to have our members know as much as possible.”

The briefings stopped once the impeachment hearings went public and members could see for themselves what was happening.

Scalise also kept GOP members supplied with background information. He made sure they knew that many Democrats — about 100 in all — had already voted for impeachment before the Ukraine matter even began. “Over 90 Democrats voted to impeach President Trump for criticizing The Squad,” Scalise said with near incredulity, referring to the high-profile Democratic freshmen.

The result of all that work was a growing sense of Republican unity. Across the country, public opinion on impeachment hardened into partisan positions. The same happened in the House.

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