Fighting to hold onto their slim majority, Senate Republicans are planning to wriggle out of considering the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen even if the House forces the issue.
It’s a two-part plan: First Senate Republicans are attempting to convince their conservative House brethren to avoid the matter entirely. Then, if the House passes an impeachment resolution by a simple majority, Senate Republicans will seek a procedural out to avoid a controversial impeachment trial that would draw attention to a Senate GOP that’s tried to portray itself as the stable arm of Congress.
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But with House Republicans divided over the Freedom Caucus’s charge to impeach Koskinen over his alleged obstruction of a congressional investigation, it’s not too late, GOP senators say, to change course and punt on impeachment at least until after the November election.
“That doesn’t have even the slightest chance over here,” said Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who opposes impeaching Koskinen. “I’m not sure it’s a wise thing to do before the election.”
“It’s in everybody’s best interest to not” vote on it, said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). “I don’t agree with the direction they’re going in.”
Failing that, Republicans say, the Senate would likely turn to a procedural maneuver to dispense with impeachment rather than begin an entire trial that could soak up valuable campaign time for vulnerable incumbents. Though nothing will be decided finally unless the House acts, GOP Senate sources said leaders would likely hold a vote to dismiss the impeachment attempt by a simple majority.
“I’m reserving judgment until I see what it looks like. I don’t think we’d be forced to take it up, but I think we’d be forced to take it seriously if the House sees fit to …