Imagine waking up one day soon to the reality that the impeachment of Pres. Donald J. Trump is over. There will be no more daily incursions into your life by flickering images of Adam Schiff trying to sound lawyerly as he spouts baseless, high-blown blather about wrongdoing and tyranny. No more leaks or eleventh-hour bombshells designed to salvage the Democrats’ star-crossed efforts to crucify the president for no real reason other than his having beaten their candidate in the 2016 election.
In a matter of days, the Senate will return to doing the Senate’s business, and the House will return — with great reluctance — to doing its. Yes, there may yet be witnesses, but the chances of that happening are diminishing by the day. Three Democratic senators from red states — Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have intimated that they will vote for acquittal, which further weakens the Democrats’ position on witnesses. What’s more is allowing Republicans to select their own witnesses — something the Democrats have worked hard to stifle since the impeachment inquiry was launched in secret in a basement bunker in the Capitol — would open up an unwanted can of worms.
So what will life after impeachment look like? Will the Democrats and their water carriers in the media finally take a break from investigating Trump for something, anything, which they have done non-stop since his election? Whether they do or not, I suspect there will be no further talk of impeachment, at least not for the foreseeable future. Despite the Democrats having correctly observed there is nothing in the law to prevent them from impeaching the president multiple times, this effort will have proved too costly to the party to repeat this exercise in futility any time soon.
Among the possible changes we might see in days to come is the demotion of Nancy Pelosi from speaker to plain-Jane congresswoman. As conservative writer Jeffrey Lord notes, that was the fate suffered by Newt Gingrich after the failed impeachment of Bill Clinton. Then again, Gingrich had urged his fellow Republicans to go after Clinton whereas Pelosi had opposed impeachment without bipartisan support until, for no good reason, she didn’t.
One plank you can expect to see added to the platforms of the candidates for the Democratic nomination in the wake of Trump’s aquittal is the claim that he cheated and that his impeachment was rigged by Republicans, who refused to play fair. The claim will energize the Democrats’ base, but the one critical unanswered question is how it will be received by independents.