By the time you get to the writing phase in political op-eds you normally have a conclusion. Today’s posting is an exception. I am literally coming up with a conclusion as I write. Here is the premise. On the assumption the Democrats take over the House in January I think the (much warranted) impeachment (think: indictment) of Donald Trump is a foregone conclusion. Conviction in the Senate requires 67 votes. I am going to assume the next Senate will be split 50-50. (That probably won’t happen exactly, but it will be very close to that.) On the assumption that the entire Democratic caucus votes to convict that means 17 Republicans will have to join them. With all those assumptions in mind let’s explore.
The bulk of those 17 will have to come from the 21 Republicans who are up for reelection in 2020. They are: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Shelley Moore-Capito of West Virginia, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Joni Ernst of Iowa. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, David Perdue of Georgia, James Risch of Idaho, Pat Robert of Kansas, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
I have put those 21 into four groups on this potential vote: Doubtful, no way, possible and questionable.
Cindy Hyde-Smith is the lone doubtful. She is currently filing out a short term as an appointee. Mississippi is a very red state where Trump is strong and she will not be in a position to rock the boat.
The two no ways are Tom Cotton and James Inhofe. Cotton is obstinate and Inhofe is of questionable mental ability. Cotton has staked out his position and has no place else to go. An Inhofe retirement would not be a surprise, but in any event he can still be reelected if he chooses to run.
Here are the eight I put in the questionable category: Lamar Alexander, Shelley Moore-Capito, John Cornyn, Steve Daines, Mike Enzi, James Risch, Pat Roberts and Dan Sullivan. In the cases of Risch, Roberts and Sullivan I flat out just don’t know. Alexander is a possible retirement which would really liberate him. Moore-Capito’s vote may well depend on how strong Trump looks in West Virginia at that point in time. Cornyn is strong in Texas, but he is also strong enough to vote his conscious and still retain his seat. Daines presents the most interesting case. If Trump’s influence costs Jon Tester his seat then Daines will have to go down with the Trump ship if necessary, if Tester wins reelection it is another story entirely. Enzi will not go against Trump if he remains extremely popular in Wyoming; home state public opinion will be a huge factor in his decision.
I’m actually sorry to see Susan Collins up in 2020. She would be a possible vote in any event. She is the Republican most likely to break with her Party and vote her convictions. Joni Ernst, Cory Garner, David Perdue and Thom Tillis will be out for self-preservation above all else. Iowa, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina are all at least somewhat purple.
Lindsey Graham is independent enough that he will often stand out from the GOP crowd.
Mitch McConnell has been Don McConnell of Washington, DC for years. When the time is right and the gravy train has left the station he will be willing to rub out Don Trump.
Ben Sasse is the most interesting in that I feel he is itching for a presidential run. With Trump out he has to think he could knock off Mike Pence for the 2020 GOP nomination.
That is my unscientific and inconclusive analysis of the next Senate and how they might vote for removal of President Trump. Much water will pass under the bridge between here and there. Circumstances will change. Retirements, possibly deaths and removals from office will change the terrain. I am assuming Robert Mueller will return a damning case against Trump.
My prediction remains that it never comes to a trial in the Senate. If Mueller’s case is strong enough many of the 18 that I have in the questionable or possible categories will privately take their stands against Trump and they will be joined by other Republicans. At that point I expect history to repeat itself, a delegation of senior Republican Senators will go to the White House and tell Trump his options are to resign or be removed from office at which point I expect he will resign. I could be wrong which is why we pay attention to the news.
Going back to the original question: Are the 17 there? I’m not sure but I think it is very possible.
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