And yet something does feel different around Washington. Republicans, and not just Trump, seem visibly nervous. “This is shaping up to be a very dark moment for the Trump White House,” a Republican source close to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the National Journal Hotline’s Josh Kraushaar. Even the Senate vote in an impeachment trial shouldn’t be taken for granted, the source said. “It’s getting to be a harder choice for more people. Whether that’s enough for enough senators to take decisive action . . . every single move has been in the wrong direction” for Trump.
It’s early days yet, of course, but since Taylor testified, political operatives have openly struggled to figure out whether this time might really be it. Everyone has his or her own little anecdotal data points, like the veteran Republican who told me he now thinks “there’s about a twenty-five per cent” chance “the dam breaks in the Senate and they turn on him and convict,” or the fervent Never Trumper who, buoyed by the recent news, texted me that he was sure “DT will be CONVICTED!” Although, he added, in a nod to a more likely reality, “unless, of course, that doesn’t happen.” Another Never Trumper, the former Republican senator Jeff Flake, said a couple of weeks ago that thirty-five Republican senators would probably vote to convict the President—if the vote were held in secret. “Only 7 (!) Republican Senators are ruling out removing Donald Trump” a headline on an article by the CNN political analyst Chris Cillizza read. The Senate Minority Whip, the Democrat Dick Durbin, from Illinois, claimed in a TV interview this week that Republican leaders were having second thoughts about the President.