The Republicans, despite what you may think, do not like Trump.
I remember the 2016 campaign, and I remember the Republicans party despised and hated this man. Lindsey Graham said “We should have kicked Trump out of the party”, Marco Rubio called him “an embarrassment”. Most telling of all was Mitch McConnell’s infamous quote: “Trump won’t change the GOP. We’ll change him.”
These three GOP Senators have essentially fallen in lock-step with Trump and his administration ever since he was elected by the Electoral College in 2016. I don’t think it’s as simple as liking him, its because they fear his supporters and see him as a useful idiot.
Why they tolerate him
Over the past 3 years, Trump has given the GOP everything they’ve ever wanted: More conservative Judges on both the Supreme Court and the countless Circuit and Lower Courts on the Federal Level, tax cuts for the Top 1%, parts of a border wall with Mexico, a new trade deal with China, and getting rid of NAFTA. For the more racist aspects of the Republican base he’s had policies such as the Muslim Ban, the concentration camps for illegal immigrants (largely Mexicans and people from South America), a foreign policy advisor who hates non-whites, and quite a bit more.
It’s the second-half that’s the problem for the GOP faithful. They’re love Trump trying to ban abortion and creating these new trade deals, but they don’t like the baggage of supporting him calling African nations “Shit-Hole Countries” or how he claims Obama put a bug in his office.
They want him gone, but obviously they can’t say that.
How to get to “yes”
For these Republican Senators, and for anyone in elected office as a Republican, the idea of turning on Trump means losing everything: From whatever office you have to whatever semblance of peace and quiet and happiness you may have had once Trump and his followers focus their attention onto you for daring to criticize their leader.
As Lindsey Graham has shown, though, you can criticize Trump if you look like you’re doing it out of love.
After reading “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolfe and later “Fear” by Bob Woodward, a picture emerged of a man who realized that if he wanted to save his country he would have to befriend a man he hated more than life itself. Lindsey Graham, trying to appear as someone who cared, who shared a lot of the same values and concerns as Trump, is able to gain his confidence and get him to actually listen to him when he criticizes something he did.
To that end, the Republicans want to get rid of Trump, but they can’t just do it. They know Trump is guilty, they know he needs to go, and they know this is their absolute best chance to do it.
They have to get to “yes.”
Why Trump is a Liability
They need to be able to make the best case possible to their constituents and to the American people that they did everything, everything, possible to stop the Democrats from this “witch hunt”. My case for this is as follows:
1. They know Trump is a liability for their elections. That’s obvious when you consider the number of Republicans in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate who are resigning and retiring this year. It’s more obvious when you look at the local State House and State Senate races where even long-time Republicans are leaving their offices because its clear that they can not get re-elected this year as that weight around their neck named Trump brings down their hopes of seeing another term.
2. They hate Trump’s actions. They may like some of what he does, but it’s clear his remarks on anything and everything are a liability to themselves and their party.
3. He’s obviously has outlived his usefulness. Between the countless judges he’s gotten appointed and the tax cuts, he’s given the majority of the GOP what they wanted. They would gladly take Mike Pence to continue that terrible legacy and suffer his religious zealotry in the process.
So how do they get out of this terrible relationship?
The initial votes we saw blocking witnesses and evidence were procedural. They voted with Mitch McConnell because they basically had to. It was a silly and stupid vote that made the Democrats have a stronger hand while making the Republicans look like they were hiding something. Yet at the same time they were able to make the case that they were looking out for Trump because the Democrats are just on some silly mission.
At this point they’re about to have the REAL vote on Witnesses and Evidence, and all the signs are showing that they will vote to allow them. If only 4 Republicans vote for it, it’s a step in the right direction
Based on everything I’ve seen, I predict the following is going to happen:
They’re going to vote to allow for evidence.
They’re going to hear testimony from John Bolton.
They’re then going to vote for Trump’s removal.
Now, about that last point:
It’s a long-shot, but the U.S. Constitution’s Impeachment section is pretty interesting: “And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.” Many have said this means 67 of the 100 Senators need to convict, but it doesn’t. It means two-thirds of the Members present must vote. It is entirely feasible, and legal, that people may not show up to vote.
That’s why the evidence and witnesses are so vital. They get the Republicans the cover they need to say that this guy is guilty as sin and needs to go immediately, that he is a clear and present threat to this republic.
With a number of Republicans up for reelection and many looking for retirement, the ones wishing to vote to convict but fearing Trump’s wrath could just state they’re not going to show up. Heck, here’s the statement: “I decided to not take part of this ridiculous process further and, after seeing the evidence and hearing from witnesses, it’s clear the Democrats are making a mockery of this entire process! Well, I for one refuse to play Adam Schift’s and Pelosi’s House Managers game and I’m sitting out this vote!”
Boom, instant protection. Get, say, 20 Republican Senators to do it and you may be able to get the votes you need if another 5 decide to stay and vote their conscious.
Even if we don’t see my “lets just not go” idea, we could still see a long line of Republicans signal being in favor of removal if Bolton’s testimony is strong enough which I would say is the starting point.
The argument that Trump’s aquitle is inevitable never made sense to me. The idea that the Republican’s notorious party discipline meant that they wouldn’t vote to remove the man that they barely even tolerate was just too crazy for me.
Like I said, the initial vote about witnesses and evidence were procedural and largely served to serve the party line. With that over and the cases presented by both the House Managers and White House Counsel, the momentum is with the prosecution as at least 50% of the nation favor removal from office, and that number is likely to grow.
Witness testimony, especially that of John Bolton, would give Republicans additional cover to vote for removal. Lev Parnas and John Bolton are going to present some amazing first-hand testimony that will prove the sheer depth of Trump’s crimes.
Allowing evidence, namely papers and documents related to the phone call will give even more cover.