Former Bush Adviser Warns Senate Republicans Can Use 'Nuclear Option,' Delay Trump Impeachment Trial Until Day After 2020 Election

An adviser to former President George W. Bush said on Fox News Thursday morning that Republicans in the Senate could take the "nuclear" option and delay the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump until the day after the 2020 presidential election.

Brad Blakeman, who served as deputy assistant to the president for appointments and scheduling during Bush's first term and worked with his presidential campaign. Speaking on the Fox News show Fox & Friends, Blakeman explained that Senate Republicans led by Senator Mitch McConnell had "many" options to choose from in dealing with the impeachment charges against Trump brought by the House of Representatives. Among these, he said, was the "nuclear option."

"[Republicans in the Senate] can delay the trial until November 4th, the day after the election," Blakeman told the morning show's co-hosts. "And let the American people decide who our next president will be."

In an opinion piece published by The Hill on December 23 titled "There's no requirement—or need—for an actual trial in the Senate," Blakeman further explained this approach. He argued that delaying the trial until November 4 would allow American voters to decide Trump's fate in the trial. The Senate could then decide how to proceed with the trial based on whether it would be Trump or one of his Democratic rivals who would be inaugurated in January 2021.

The House passed two articles of impeachment against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on December 18. Voting ran largely along party lines: Democrats voted to pass the articles; Republicans voted against them. The impeachment process started after a whistleblower alerted Congress to a July phone call in which which Trump asked the president of Ukraine to open an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Biden's son, Hunter.

The Constitution rules that after the House passes articles of impeachment, the Senate holds a trial in which it decides whether or not to remove the impeached politician from office. A date for Trump's trial before the Senate has not yet been set pending transfer of the articles of impeachment from the House to the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, has expressed reluctance to hand over the articles to Republican-controlled Senate for review citing its "rogue" leader, Mitch McConnell.

Both in his piece for The Hill and on Fox & Friends, however, Blakeman argued that the Senate trial did not even need to take place, as the charges brought against Trump are "defective" and do not "meet the constitutional standard" for impeachment. Blakeman said he would like to see the Senate completely dismiss the charges, and argued that Trump has not been technically been impeached since Pelosi has not sent the charges to the Senate.

"So if [the House of Representatives] doesn't consummate their vote by the filing of charges against the president in the Senate, then in fact I believe—as many scholars do—that the man has not been impeached," Blakeman said.

Trump on Christmas Eve
President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after making a video call to the troops stationed worldwide at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach Florida, on December 24, 2019. Nicholas Kamm/Getty