Some Republicans have called on the president to resign, which is a pipe dream. Others have tried to have it both ways by saying that he deserves to be impeached but shouldn’t get what he deserves. The Senate won’t convict and the process will sow even more political discord, they argue, so let Mr. Trump serve out his few remaining days in office.
One problem with this reasoning is that the Constitution doesn’t condition impeachment on the timing of the offense or whether the process will prove divisive. Will future presidents be permitted to commit impeachable offenses, so long as they occur in the final weeks of a term? It’s always possible that things could get worse, but we’ve already seen a storming of the Capitol, a president who refuses to concede defeat, and 147 Republicans in the House and Senate who have voted to overturn the November election results. Will a second impeachment—this one actually warranted, by the way—be some sort of tipping point?
What really concerns Republican lawmakers is the party brand going forward. They are worried about their own political prospects post-Trump. A second Trump impeachment may indeed be bad for the country, broadly speaking, but it’s worse for the GOP. The Trump presidency has already cost Republicans the House, the Senate and—thanks to last week’s mob action—the moral high ground. The next president will have to deal with the fallout, but Joe Biden can be forgiven for not taking advice from Republican lawmakers on how to proceed.