Speed Reads

The Ides of December

Trump is reportedly terrified of any GOP defections on impeachment. He's likely to get a handful.

President Trump and his allies have been conducting a dogged mole hunt for impeachment-curious Republicans who might vote with Democrats to either impeach Trump or convict him in the Senate, Tim Alberta reports at Politico . So even before "good soldier" Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) sent shockwaves through Washington by suggesting, first privately then on CNN, that impeaching Trump might be appropriate, "the once-invisible congressman was the subject of constant surveillance."

GOP leaders in Washington started "orchestrating a whisper campaign" in Rooney's "bloody red" Florida district so that "if and when Rooney broke ranks, the uprising back home would appear instant and organic," serving as a cautionary tale for other Republicans, Alberta reports. "Rooney knew the trap was being laid, but he didn't bother avoiding it," and when the fierce blowback started, he quickly decided to retire.

"There is a sizable number of Republican senators and representatives who believe Trump's actions are at least theoretically impeachable, who believe a thorough fact-finding mission is necessary, who believe his removal from office is not an altogether radical idea," Alberta reports, citing dozens of interviews. But even Rooney is skeptical that any House Republican will vote to impeachment Trump.

No one in Washington thinks 20 Republicans senators will vote to convict Trump, either, "and yet, Trump cannot stand to be embarrassed — and there is no greater embarrassment to a president than being impeached, much less with the abetting of his own tribe," Alberta reports. In the Senate, the White House considers Mitt Romney (R-Utah) "a lost cause" and wouldn't be surprised to lose Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Three mavericks jumping ship "might not move the needle much in political circles," Alberta writes, but "it's not far-fetched to imagine as many as five Republican senators ultimately taking the leap together," sending treachery-sniffing, loyalty-obsessed Trump "an institution-defining rebuke." Read more about the game of cat-and-mouse, and the mice Trump is worried about, at Politico.