Impeachment: Will Republicans turn on Trump?
The odds of the GOP-held Senate removing President Trump from office remain slim, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com, but after the past few dizzying weeks, that “prospect is no longer a fantasy.” Trump’s abrupt decision to pull troops out of Syria and abandon the Kurds was “genuinely alarming” to Senate Republicans, proving he no longer has adult supervision to restrain him. Then came the president’s ill-fated attempt to host the next G-7 summit at his own Doral Miami golf resort, and revelations by Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Ambassador Bill Taylor that left no doubt that Trump demanded investigations of Democrats in return for military aid to Ukraine. Privately, Republican senators think little of Trump, and they may decide that “ripping off the Band-Aid” and removing him from office beats “allowing another year of a completely unrestrained toddler president.” The cracks in the Republican firewall around Trump are “starting to show,” said Amber Phillips in The Washington Post. Even stalwart Trump defender Sen. Lindsey Graham has said it would be “very disturbing” if proof emerged that Trump “actually was engaging in a quid pro quo” with Ukraine. We will soon discover if Republicans think “there is such a thing as Trump going too far.”
Don’t bet on it, said Dahlia Lithwick in Slate.com. Graham has said he’d need proof of an actual “crime” before he’d vote to convict. He knows full well—as then–Rep. Graham explained during Bill Clinton’s Senate trial—that the “high crimes and misdemeanors” required by the Constitution refer to abuses of presidential power and the public trust, and require no actual violation of criminal laws. Whatever emerges about Trump’s misdeeds, Graham and his colleagues will simply keep moving “the impeachment goalposts” to justify keeping him in office. “Giddy” Democrats should beware, said Liz Peek in FoxNews.com. Public opinion will ultimately determine Trump’s fate, and while there has been a shift in favor of impeachment, polls show that a plurality (49 percent) of all Americans disapprove of how Democrats, with their “closed-door hearings and purposeful leaks,” are handling the process.
Taylor’s “smoking quid pro quo” changes everything, said Jennifer Rubin in WashingtonPost.com. In a Senate trial, Republicans will no longer be able to claim that Trump was merely pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate generic “corruption.” To acquit Trump, Republicans will have to argue it’s no big deal for a president “to extort a foreign government” into interfering in our elections for his political gain. Behind closed doors, Senate Republicans are making their own political calculations, said B.J. Rudell in TheHill.com. Polls show at least five GOP senators looking very vulnerable in 2020, raising the real possibility of a Democratic majority. If these trends continue, Republicans may have no choice but to “cut off Trump to save the Senate.”
Republicans brought this dilemma on themselves, said Jonah Goldberg in NationalReview.com. If they’d “worked harder at constraining Trump from the beginning,” he may not have concluded he could get away with anything. After 1,000 days of Trump’s bull-in-a-china-shop behavior, Republicans now face “the implosion of their party.” The impeachment vote should not be about party, said Will Bunch in The Philadelphia Inquirer. With 67 Senate votes required for removal, the “fate of the republic” hinges on whether 20 Republican senators will either publicly state their willingness to convict or will inform Trump quietly that his time is up. “The alternative scenario,” in which Republicans green-light Trump’s brazen authoritarianism, “is almost too awful to contemplate.” ■