The vote to remove or acquit President Trump on the charges he withheld aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into Joe Biden's son has been scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 5.
After voting to not call witnesses on Friday evening by a vote of 51-49, with two Republicans - Romney and Collins - joining all 47 Democrats, the impeachment of Trump is about to come to an end. Sen. Charles Schumer, the minority leader of the Senate, said: "To not allow witnesses or documents in an impeachment trial is a grand tragedy, one of the worst tragedies that the Senate has ever overcome. America will remember this day - a day when the United States Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, turned away from truth and instead went along with a sham trial."
On Monday, closing arguments are scheduled to begin. On Tuesday, the president is scheduled to deliver the State of the Union address. President Trump will still be under the cloud of impeachment, which seems bizarre, but this whole process has been bizarre.
First, the real "sham" trial was in the U.S. House. President Trump wasn't allowed to call witnesses in the very partisan process. The president's defense team wasn't allowed to question the Democrat witnesses. The outcome was predetermined. That is a real tragedy.
Second, Sens. Romney and Collins - both Republicans - should pay the price for voting with the Democrats. Romney represents conservative Utah and isn't up for re-election until 2024, but his constituents should force him to explain or justify his "no witnesses" vote. Collins represents middle-of-the-road Maine, so her vote will not be as big of a political issue in her home state, but she is up for re-election in 2020. Collins, 67, is running for her fourth six-year term and faces little opposition in the primary, but the Democrat Speaker of the House in Maine is running against her in the general. Cook Political Report has moved the race to a "tossup" from solidly Republican status.
Third, when the trial vote is taken on Wednesday, expect at least two Democrats to join the Republicans to acquit. Sens. Sinema, D-Ariz.; Manchin, D-W.Va.; Jones, D-Ala.; and King, I-Maine, are the ones most likely to join Republicans to acquit, but expect all Republicans to vote to acquit. Two of the senators represent states Trump carried in 2016.
Fourth, there are four U.S. Democratic senators running for president who should recuse themselves from voting on Wednesday. That is highly unlikely to happen, but it should. Sens. Bennet, D-Colo.; Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Sanders, I-Vt.; and Warren, D-Mass, are all seeking the Democratic Party's nomination. Voting on whether their political opponent can remain in office and stand for re-election or be removed and sent home just isn't right.
Don't expect Wednesday's vote to end the circus and send the carnies home. They will dismantle the tent, haul it to the next town, set up and start the process again. And the people's business will go to the back burner.
Steve Fair is the District 4 Oklahoma Republican Party chair.