Could Trump Be Impeached This Time?
February 13, 2021
In early 2020 the Democrats needed 21 Republican Senators’ votes (assuming no Democrat votes to acquit) to convict The Donald in the first impeachment. They got one.
Then the voters spoke and now Democrats need 17 Republican Senators to vote to convict. On the first vote on the legality of proceeding after The Donald was forced from office, they got 5 votes. That leaves 12.
Then Bruce Castor spoke defending The Donald, and the Democrats got one more Republican (from Louisiana, for Pete’s sake). That leaves 11.
Who might swing?
First, there are a couple Republicans who could vote their conscience, in part because they have announced that they will not seek reelection in 2022, Rob Portman and Richard Shelby (unlikely). Let’s say that Portman decides that The Donald should go. That leave 10.
Next, there are at least 3 Republicans who clearly want to run for President in 2024, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio. Why would they vote to convict? It is likely that The Donald will continue to tease the possibility that he will run again. He likes to see his name in the news to promote the Trump brand and he thinks the can maintain some leverage within the party. At least through the 2022 elections, he will be the brooding cloud over the party, precluding everyone else from gathering support for 2024. Cruz, Hawley and Rubio may conclude that they are better off voting to disqualify him from running, even at the risk of alienating his core base supporters (see more below about how big that base actually is). They may decide they have time to rehabilitate themselves with that base. Let say that two of the three make that political calculation and vote to convict (and, of course, to preclude him from running). That leaves 8.
Next, Mitch McConnell may decide that he has had enough of the chaos that is The Donald. He is an acknowledged master at manipulating every issue, every vote, with the singular goal of adding to the Republican votes in the Senate in the next election. He has been a toady while The Donald was in office, but he hated the constant changes in direction, lack of consistent messaging, and general obnoxious behavior he had to endure. He has taken some baby steps toward voting to convict, so perhaps he will pull the trigger. That leaves 7.
Next there are the Senators who are adept at seeing which way the wind is blowing and have no problem with hypocrisy. Of course, I speak of Lindsey Graham. If Cruz, Rubio and McConnell are voting to convict, he may want to stay with the winning team and switch his vote. Cruz can tell him that there are plenty of golf courses in Texas and dangle a seat in the Cruz cabinet as a reward for giving up Mar a Lago. That leaves 6.
I do not know the rest of the Republican Senators well enough to identify 6 more Republican Senators who would be willing to say in public what they have, for years, been saying in private. I do understand that McConnell, Cruz and Rubio are not going to make the leap without strong assurance that they will win. They know their colleagues and will pick the weak links and make the necessary deals if they are this close.
I understand that Republican office holders live in mortal dread of the Trump base. They tremble at the 74 million votes that he garnered. But let’s be clear, the vast majority of those voters are not the “Trump or no one” people who committed treason at the Capitol on January 6. Many are (1) Americans who vote for the Republican candidate even if the devil incarnate is the Democratic candidate; (2) Americans who like tax cuts for the rich, which every Republican candidate favors; (3) Americans who support “smaller government” (unless that means cutting their Social Security, Medicare or corporate welfare); (4) Americans who looked that their 401(k) in 2020 and liked what they saw. Voting to get rid of The Donald will not lose their votes.
Fox News and Rush Limbaugh may howl, but the vote will be done before they have a chance to change minds. Obviously my scenario is a long-shot, but the opportunity to make The Donald the first President impeached, convicted and precluded from holding office is too tempting to keep me from dreaming.