Judging from the propaganda he horks up, Republican Senator John Kennedy (Louisiana) is not likely to vote to convict and remove the president. Are there any Republicans in the Senate who are willing to admit to the danger to our country, to our democracy even, posed by Donald J. Trump? Are there any willing to honor their oath of office and do their constitutional duty?
If the answer to those questions is “no”, then our nation is well and truly screwed. A purely partisan vote in the Senate will complete the hand-off of constitutionally specified power from the Congress to the President.
A. B. Stoddard, associate editor and columnist at RealClearPolitics, speculates about The Twelve Senate Republicans Who Might Vote to Remove Trump from Office in The Bulwark. He argues that It’s vitally important to the future of the Republic that a Senate trial not result in a straight party-line vote.
Here are excerpts.
Even before the House Intelligence Committee wrapped up its public impeachment hearings, the punditariat and the president’s defenders defiantly declared this whole matter “over” because polls show Americans don’t care, ratings show not enough of them watched, and though some vaping voters may abandon Trump, elected Republicans never will. This week the impeachment process moves over to the House Judiciary Committee, where we will hear from Republicans over and over that these proceedings are an embarrassing failure. When the process reaches the House floor, either late this month or in January, we can expect Republicans to vote en masse against articles of impeachment and throw triumphant press conferences celebrating the Democrats’ political suicide. Somewhere senators are practicing their gleeful but disgusted chuckles.
It seems all but certain that a Senate impeachment trial won’t remove Trump from office, since reaching the necessary supermajority of 67 votes would require the support not only of all 47 Senate Democrats and independents but also of 20 Senate Republicans. Yet surely there are at least 12 Republican senators who could find themselves unable to absolve the president of his demonstrably impeachable conduct. A bipartisan majority vote declaring his actions a betrayal of his oath of office is still critically important. A partisan acquittal would represent a grave threat to the Republic: Trump would view it not only as approval of his past abuse of power and attempted bribery but as permission for more. This outcome, senators know, would invite Trump to break our system for good.
Is there a dirty dozen?
Likely the only Senate Republicans who will truly wrestle with this burden are three retirees who are leaving the Senate next year, another three rebels who seemed disinclined to fear the cult, and six others who are up for re-election. Lamar Alexander, Mike Enzi, and Pat Roberts are eyeing the history books and all revere the institution that was functioning as a coequal branch of government when they arrived. Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski have not been afraid to criticize Trump, and Richard Burr has run the most bipartisan committee in Congress through his own Russia investigation—and is serving his final term in the seat once held by Sam Ervin, who chaired the Senate Watergate committee.
For those Senate Republicans in tough re-election battles, a vote to sanction Trump isn’t going to save them, but if they are likely to lose their race anyway they may see the most important vote of their career a bit differently. Susan Collins is in a huge fight after a career as the most bipartisan senator in a state Hillary Clinton won. Cory Gardner is also facing a well-liked former governor in a blue state Clinton won. Martha McSally lost her race in Arizona last year and is now serving by appointment in the seat of the late John McCain. She is running in a swing state and will weigh her dependence on Trump against the Constitution and democracy she fought to protect as a combat pilot in the Air Force. Joni Ernst will have to hope every last devastated farmer shows up to vote Republican after Trump’s trade war has hit Iowa and his approval there is underwater. Her own approval and fundraising have been weak. Thom Tillis is also underwater in North Carolina where Democrats are investing heavily and where he was booed at a Trump rally. Tillis could lose his race even if Trump wins the state. Finally, John Cornyn, a former judge and attorney general of Texas, will be in for a fierce fight in a state Ted Cruz predicted would be “hotly contested,” with Democrats promising to run up massive margins after their record turnout in 2018.
It was striking to see several GOP senators rush out, as soon as the weeks of damaging Intelligence Committee testimony concluded, to make sure we knew that as impeachment jurors they will most definitely not have open minds. It was especially striking because, just hours after the hearings ended, a series of new developments started breaking in the press.
Those developments include: Russia framing Ukraine for Moscow’s 2016 hacks, a “series of internal administration emails depicting a scramble to retroactively explain Trump’s Ukraine actions”, and “two White House budget officials resigned this year at least in part out of frustration with Trump’s delay of aid to Ukraine.”
But my fav is this: “a lawyer for Rudy Giuliani crony Lev Parnas told CNN that last year, Rep. Devin Nunes, then the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, met in Vienna with Viktor Shokin, the ousted Ukrainian prosecutor general, to mine for oppo on former vice president Joe Biden.” And then “Parnas has already provided tapes, audio, and video to the House Intelligence Committee.”
In spite of all that, it appears that the GOPlins in the Senate have already conducted a trial in their own minds and found Trump totally innocent of the demonstrable high crimes and misdemeanors he has committed (and continues to do so every day).
It will be so ugly. The smell of hypocrisy will be everywhere. Tribalism has already contorted the mindset of too many Republicans, making President Trump’s removal all but impossible. But a few good men and women can choose country over cult.
Let’s hope that a handful of them can stomach it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Trump, hope does not produce change. And so it is also true of the Republicans in the “greatest deliberative body in the world.”