In a regularly scheduled weekly interview on Tuesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy was joined on the newsmakers line by One America News Network‘s Washington, D.C. correspondent, Neil McCabe.
Nearing the middle of the segment, McCabe gave his view on the way the House would vote on the articles of impeachment and the role of the rules committee in the voting process. He noted that the rules committee is the most powerful and that all members have been hand-picked by Speaker Pelosi enabling the Speaker to control the flow of legislation.
Leahy: To elaborate on that is our good friend Neil McCabe. The Washington Correspondent for One America News Network. Good morning Neil.
McCabe: Michael, wasn’t Burl Ives a communist?
Leahy: (Laughs) I think he was a left-leaning guy. I think so yeah.
McCabe: Maybe he was parlor pink as they would say. (Leahy chuckles)
Leahy: So we’re eye minus one. Tomorrow’s the big vote, isn’t it?
McCabe: Yeah. So the rules committee today at 11 am chaired by Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern who’s very much from the old school. For many years he worked for South Boston’s legendary Congressman Joe Moakley.
Leahy: Joe Moakley. Yes, remember him well.
McCabe: He’s the chairman of rules. And so McGovern’s from the old school. Pelosi didn’t put him there so he could freelance. (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: Jam it down.
McCabe: Just so people understand the rules committee. It’s the most powerful thing you’ve never heard of. The Democrats have a 9-4 advantage and it’s structured deliberately so there’s no funny business in the rules committee.
And nothing goes to the House floor until it passes through rules. And the rules committee can make any amendment it wants. It can do anything it wants to a bill. And really it’s called the Speaker’s committee because the Speaker handpicks the rules committee and that’s how the Speaker sort of controls the flow of legislation.
People will look back to the time of John Boehner and Paul Ryan, it was through the rules committee that Ryan and Boehner were able to block legislation that would pass a committee and everyone would wait for it to come to the House floor and it would never make it to the House floor.
Leahy: So here it is, two articles of impeachment passed by the House Judiciary Committee are now in front of the rules committee today. Will they pass it out as it is? Will they change it? What will happen today?
McCabe: I think they’re going to pass it as is. These articles were approved by Pelosi before they even went to the judiciary. I know judiciary put out a seven-volume and the history of impeachment of Donald Trump. They talk about wire fraud. They talk about treason. And it’s just sort of like the cowardliness of Mueller.
That Mueller report tainted reputations. Threw out all these crazy charges but he gave no one the chance to defend themselves. And the same thing with Nadler. It will go to the House floor. There are two, let’s call Van Drew a Republican.
McCabe: So there’s 200 votes for the Republicans. Now the majority is typically 218. There are four vacancies. Plus Ted Lieu again is on extended health-related hiatus.
Leahy: So he will not be there for the vote. He’s a Democrat from California. He has a health issue?
McCabe: Right. So 216 would be the majority if it was 431. 216 is still majority but 215 and a 215 tie, people will remember their Roberts rules of parliamentary procedure. If there is a tie, the motion fails. So the Republicans only need 15 Democrats.
Leahy: Yeah but are they going to get 15? My guess is they get maybe a total of six and there are 228 yes votes. 203 no votes. What’s your take?
McCabe: I say 9. I think they might go as high as 9. I’m going to work on my list tonight.
Leahy: So that will bring them down to what? 225?
McCabe: The articles still pass but it’s interesting. And I’ll make another point if I could please real quickly?
McCabe: So if you compare the national popular vote for House candidates in 2018 versus 2016. In 2018 there was a 2% drop off for House Democrats. So they received 1.2 million fewer votes in 2018 than they did in 2016. That is a remarkable drop-off. Sometimes the drop off during a mid-term is like 30%.
For Republicans, there was a 19% drop off for House candidates so the Republican House candidates in 2018 received 12.3 million some odd votes less than they did in 2016. So the bottom line there is that Republicans believe that those 12 million voters show up again with Trump on the top of the ticket.
McCabe: So Trump must stay at the top of the ticket. That is a practical reason.
Leahy: I would agree.
McCabe: If Trump survives. So forget Ukraine. Imagine having to explain to somebody who doesn’t really check into politics like junkies like you or me or other people listening to the show right? It’s funny, it’s like OK, why can’t we get the wall? Because Ukraine had to wait two months for its sniper rifles.
Leahy: Really? Yeah, that’s really compelling. So do you think the vote then on the floor will be held tomorrow?
Leahy: Yeah, I think so too. And the range is 225 to 228 yes. And then no would be 203 to 206. That’s a very narrow, very partisan approach. No Republicans are going to vote for it correct?
McCabe: Absolutely not. In fact, remember on election day 2018 or election night when you went to bed Michael probably I’m guessing you went to bed at about 2 or 3 in the morning.
Leahy: On election night, yes.
McCabe: 20 seats were still too close to call. So the idea that this was some kind of Democratic landslide does not really reflect the dynamic of what was going on and how close these races actually were. These Democrats that won in Trump districts, these weren’t landslides right? They were squeaking by.
Leahy: Two or three points maybe.
McCabe: And…I don’t want to say voter fraud because we know that doesn’t even exist.
Leahy: Never happens. No.
McCabe: Doesn’t even exist in America. (Leahy laughs) Other countries yes. America never. (Leahy chuckles) But they were caught harvesting which is completely legal and encouraged. And so a lot of these House Democrats know that the only reason they have their job is because of unique innovations in the Get Out the Vote efforts by the Democrats that the Republicans know about now.
Leahy: Yes. So there’s trouble for them either way. They’re going to vote to impeach the President. It will go to the Senate. It will be a quick trial or a long trial in your view?
McCabe: Oh quick. Very quick.
Leahy: I agree.
McCabe: It will be like when the hospital is really sick of you.
Leahy: Time to get out.
McCabe: No what they do when they’re really tired of you right? Overnight, they put you on the morphine drip and when your relatives show up in the morning they say we’re sorry, Mike passed away in his sleep. (Leahy laughs) They’re going to put this thing on the morphine drip so when the senators show up in the morning it will already be over.
Leahy: Are they going to vote on both articles? Yes or no in the Senate?
McCabe: Oh yeah.
Leahy: What will the vote be in your view in the Senate?
McCabe: In the Senate?
Leahy: Yeah, in the senate. What’s your guess?
McCabe: 55. There are 52 Republicans?
Leahy: Yeah, 53 Republicans I guess.
McCabe: 53 Republicans, so I’m guessing both get at least 55 votes because you have Jones, Sinema, and Manchin who are going to vote to acquit.
Leahy: I think it’s 55-45 no. 55-45 to acquit. That’s my guess. I think we’re about on the same page there.
McCabe: On the House side there will be some article splitting if you will. There are 31 Democrats in Trump districts.
Leahy: Oh. So the obstruction of congress would get fewer votes you think than the abuse of power.
McCabe: Well they’ll flip. They’ll pick one or the other. They may have agreements with others. You flip this one, I flip the other one. So the number remains the same but basically they can tell the voters, listen I wasn’t going lockstep. I thought this went too far. But I think treason’s important.
Leahy: So Neil, when you come back next Tuesday we will have an impeached president and we’ll be on our way to an acquittal in the Senate trial. Thank you as always. Lively and to the point and information you can’t get elsewhere. Thanks for joining us Neil.
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Photo “Neil McCabe” by One America News Network.