She’s not committing to anything in this statement, but I think that’s only because she’s trying to maintain the polite fiction of senators as impartial jurors during the trial. She’s going to vote to remove.
One down, 16 to go.
“The House of Representatives has impeached President Trump for an unprecedented second time, under a charge of “incitement of insurrection” in the wake of the unlawful and violent siege of the Capitol on January 6. This second impeachment stands in stark contrast to what we faced last January—an impeachment that was partisan from the beginning and left no opportunity for a fair trial in the Senate. The resolution to impeach President Trump for a second time passed by a vote of 232-197, representing the most bipartisan support and the largest number of votes for a presidential impeachment.
“For months, the President has perpetrated false rhetoric that the election was stolen and rigged, even after dozens of courts ruled against these claims. When he was not able to persuade the courts or elected officials, he launched a pressure campaign against his own Vice President, urging him to take actions that he had no authority to do. On the day of the riots, President Trump’s words incited violence, which led to the injury and deaths of Americans – including a Capitol Police officer – the desecration of the Capitol, and briefly interfered with the government’s ability to ensure a peaceful transfer of power. Such unlawful actions cannot go without consequence and the House has responded swiftly, and I believe, appropriately, with impeachment.
She’ll vote yes, so will Collins, so will Romney, and so, I think, will Toomey. He’s iffier, but he’s retiring and he’s said publicly that Trump committed impeachable acts so I think he’ll avoid a Nancy-Mace-style wimp-out. Sasse is also possible. Beyond that, the pickings start to get slim.
After all, Trump’s grip on the party may have weakened a bit but it’s still firmly in his hands:
Those numbers among independents are … not great, but a party that’s won the presidential popular vote once in its last eight tries doesn’t really concern itself with swing voters anymore. Nearly everyone’s in primary mode 24/7 and crossing Trump is an invitation for a primary challenge. Even among self-described “traditional Republicans,” not MAGA fans, Trump’s no worse than roughly even on whether his “stop the steal” campaign was a good idea after the U.S. Capitol was attacked because of it.
In a fight for the soul of the GOP between Trump and Liz Cheney, which side would you take? If morality didn’t matter, I mean.
In fact, I wonder if Cocaine Mitch isn’t eyeballing those numbers today and thinking, “If we don’t disqualify this guy when we have the chance, this party’s just crazy enough to nominate him again in 2024.” Some of his colleagues, like Mike Rounds, are speculating that maybe the Biden DOJ will solve the party’s problem by prosecuting Trump for a crime, but that’s a risky bet. Trump probably can’t be convicted for criminal incitement; at the very least, it’s uncertain enough that Team Joe would be unlikely to try. They could always try him for other crimes, but if Biden manages to somehow lower the political temperature over the next few months he’ll be reluctant in the extreme to have his administration do something to raise it again.
Only two entities realistically have the power to cancel Trump 2024. One is Trump himself, the other is McConnell’s caucus starting next week. It’s their move.
I repeat what I said this morning, that the one thing that might cause a dam break in favor of conviction by the Senate is if there’s another terror attack, especially if Trump himself says something that can plausibly be understood as incitement in that case too. Per the Times, it sounds like the president is less interested these days in whether his words can be used against him by the Senate and more interested in whether they can be used against him by the local U.S. Attorney. Note this detail about the video he released last night:
The aides most involved in the language of the video were the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone; his deputy, Pat Philbin; and Mr. Trump’s main speechwriter, Stephen Miller…
Some advisers discussed the possibility of Mr. Trump resigning a few days early, in part because it would allow him to have the option of running again in 2024 and perhaps avoid the risk of being convicted and barred from future office by the Senate.
But Mr. Trump has been dismissive of any suggestion that he leave the presidency early and told White House aides that President Richard M. Nixon, whose influence in the party ended when he resigned, did not have much to show for it.
His lawyers, not his political aides, wrote the script for the video. I think Cipollone is probably whispering to him that he’s in criminal jeopardy for incitement and that the best thing he can for his defense right now is to make a bunch of statements condemning violence. That way, in the unlikely event that he’s tried, he has stuff he can show the jury to “prove” that he didn’t intend for the rally crowd to attack the Capitol on January 6. The video could also help keep him viable for business opportunities that have been evaporating lately, with sources telling ABC that Trump is “anxious” about partners cutting ties to the Trump Organization. The more he can scrub his fingerprints off of any violence to come, the more willing remaining partners should be to stick with him.
But it’s probably out of his hands now. If there’s a bloodbath in Washington on Inauguration Day, even Trump bellowing “I denounce!” afterward might not stop him from becoming radioactive to TV networks. Imagine him spending his post-presidency with even Fox unwilling to have him on.
That might be the one thing that convinces him to run again in 2024, in fact. If the only way he can get attention after the “stop the steal” horror is to run again, well, that’s what he’ll do.
I’ll leave you with this clip of John Eastman ranting about fraud at the January 6 rally. Eastman’s likely to be one of Trump’s lawyers for his Senate trial. If there’s one thing sure to antagonize Senate Republicans who are still undecided on whether to remove, it’s turning the trial into a circus and a megaphone for more conspiracy crankery. But that’s really the only way this show can end, so let’s get on with it.
Here is John Eastman, chairman of a Federalist Society practice group, at the pre-insurrection rally spouting conspiracy theories about voter fraud. He concludes: “Anybody that is not willing to stand up and [vote to overturn the election] does not deserve to be in the office!” pic.twitter.com/auD2vXSjNE
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) January 13, 2021