Republican Leaders Rallying to Impeach Trump

Some key GOP figures are at least testing the waters.

As Steven Taylor noted last evening, Liz Cheney, the 3rd-ranking House Republican, will vote to impeach President Trump for inciting insurrection. While somewhat cagier, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is signaling his support as well.

CNN (“McConnell believes impeachment push will help rid Trump from the GOP, but has not said if he will vote to convict“):

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he believes that impeaching President Donald Trump will make it easier to get rid of the President and Trumpism from the Republican Party, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

Another person with direct knowledge told CNN there’s a reason McConnell has been silent on impeachment as other Republicans have pushed back: he’s furious about last week’s attack on the US Capitol by the President’s supporters, even more so that Trump has shown no contrition. His silence has been deliberate as he leaves open the option of supporting impeachment.

McConnell has made no commitments on voting to convict Trump, and wants to see the article itself before voting. It’s a stark contrast to the President’s first impeachment, when McConnell repeatedly spoke out against Democratic intentions to hold Trump accountable for a pressure campaign on the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his family.

McConnell has been steadily moving his conference away from Trump for weeks. While he knows they all aren’t there with him, the Kentucky Republican believes the party needs to turn the page.

Several GOP sources said on Tuesday that if McConnell supports conviction, Trump almost certainly will be convicted by 67 senators in the impeachment trial.

“If Mitch is a yes, he’s done,” said one Senate GOP source who asked not to be named.

Many Republican senators are staying quiet about whether they’ll back conviction — a sign that they, too, could support conviction in an effort to rid Trump from their party.

Now, there’s a lot of speculation in there. But it certainly comports with McConnell’s broader actions surrounding the “stolen election” charade. “Sources” tell Axios it’s “a better than 50-50 chance” that McConnell votes to convict.

While there are enough Democrats in the House to virtually assure impeachment, at least a handful of other Republicans in the body are on board. New York’s John Katko was the first, announcing ahead of Cheney. And Fred Upton of Michigan and Adam Kinzinger of Michigan are reportedly on board as well.

Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, says he’s against impeachment but he isn’t calling on Republicans to vote against it.

Whether born of legitimate outrage, sheer political opportunism, or some combination of factors, a supermajority vote in an equally-divided Senate to convict and remove Trump would be historic. Not only has no President ever been removed through the impeachment process but, until Mitt Romney crossed the aisle on Trump’s previous impeachment, not a single member of a President’s party has voted to convict. Seventeen, a full third of the Republican caucus, would have to do so to reach the minimum threshold.

Alas, I tend to think legal scholar and former appellate judge J. Michael Luttig is right in his assessment that the Senate lacks the power to try Trump after he leaves office. And, realistically, there’s just no way to get him impeached and removed in the next seven days. Regardless, I’d be willing to have the vote and let the Supreme Court decide that question.

FILED UNDER: Capitol Riot, Donald Trump, Impeachment, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    Alas, I tend to think legal scholar and former appellate judge J. Michael Luttig is right in his assessment that the Senate lacks the power to try Trump after he leaves office

    Disagree with Luttig. Beyond the issue with such a position rendering the penalties for impeachment in the Constitution a nullity, Impeachment is a political question. That is it is what Congress says it is. SCOTUS has already made clear that impeachment challenges are non-justiciable.

    ______________
    Also, Liz Cheney, a member of GOP House Leadership, has come out even harder that many Dems in favor of impeachment.

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  2. MarkedMan says:

    I don’t think there is a commenter on this site that has been more adamant over the years that the modern Republican Party is an active danger to our country. But this gives me some small hope. Parties have changed their nature in the past. It is a generational thing and the start of such a change is probably not apparent at the time, but I am hopeful this is nonetheless a start.

    America doesn’t need a Republican Party. For that matter, it doesn’t need a Democratic Party. What it does need is a sufficient number of leaders with the public good as their final backstop. Up to right now there are only a tiny handful of national Republicans with any sense of the public good. But despite this they have captured the loyalties of nearly half the population with cynical race baiting, religious fanaticism, non-scientific mumbo jumbo and revisionist history. In the ‘60s they thought they could use the Southern racists, and instead were taken over by those racists. In the ‘80s they thought they could use the Christian religious extremists, but were instead taken over by the Christian extremists. In the 90’s they thought they could use the gun nuts and were taken over by the gun nuts. In the 00’s they thought they could use the Tea Party and were instead taken over by the Tea Party. And of course, we know what happened when they thought they could use Trump. If there is some faint ember of horror at what has been wrought in even a few of the leadership, maybe we can start to emerge from this nightmare.

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  3. Jon says:

    This is one of those rare times when the interests of the ‘sane’ GOP leadership align with the interests of the country. We should take advantage of that.

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  4. Alas, I tend to think legal scholar and former appellate judge J. Michael Luttig is right in his assessment that the Senate lacks the power to try Trump after he leaves office.

    I simply don’t understand this argument. Who would stop the Senate? How would they do so?

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that the Senate voted to bar Trump from holding future and to bar him from his perks. Trump could go to court and assert that the impeachment was unconstitutional, and maybe he would prevail (and maybe he wouldn’t).

    But that wouldn’t stop the Senate from acting in the first place.

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  5. Luttig seems to think that SCOTUS would somehow stop the Senate from proceeding. That would be an extraordinary (and highly unlikely) act, IMHO.

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  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    The reason the Rs are turning on Trump is that the donor class has turned on Trump and it is hitting them where it hurts. Add to that the death of Adelson, a reliable stream of cash and the Kochs, suggesting that they’ll spread their money beyond Rs, the party is in a world of hurt. Turning on Trump is the fastest way to polish a turd.

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  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If the senate convicted and the supremes through the impeachment out, the penalty, stripping Trump of his perks and denying him the ability to run for future office, could be done through legislation.

    2
  8. mistermix says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Also, Luttig acknowledges that there’s an argument for post-office impeachment:

    Some constitutional scholars take support for their view that the Congress can impeach a former president from two instances in which early Congresses impeached “civil officials” after they had resigned their public offices — the impeachments of Sen. William Blount in 1797 and the impeachment of Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876.

    These congressional impeachment cases provide some backing for the argument that Congress can conclude that it has the power under the Constitution to impeach a former president. And Congress’s understanding of its constitutional powers would be a weighty consideration in the ultimate determination whether the Congress does possess such authority. When and if the former president goes to court to challenge his impeachment trial as unconstitutional, Congress is sure to make its argument based on these congressional precedents, as well as others, a case that would almost certainly make its way to the Supreme Court.

    Given that there’s not a deep set of impeachment precedents, the fact that there are two instances where Congress impeached and convicted office holders once they left office seems like a pretty important precedent and certainly doesn’t support the notion that it’s a slam dunk that Trump can’t be convicted after he leaves offiice.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he believes that impeaching President Donald Trump will make it easier to get rid of the President and Trumpism from the Republican Party,

    Impossible. The only way to rid the GOP of trumpism is mass suicide. Every last republican sumbeach supported trump and everything he did up to and including his attempts to get foreign govts to interfere in our elections. They’re just pissed now because they never thought the leopards would try to eat their faces.

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  10. KM says:

    @Sleeping Dog :

    THIS^^. Trump is and always has been bad for business. They took advantage of him while he was there to get what they want but billionares know a money pit when they see one. He’ll be making himself money, not them. What does he bring to the table but trouble? He can’t even control his own mob with many of them angry he told them to leave during the riots and isn’t full-throated backing them. He’ll obstruct or ruin the chances of other investments such as Hawley who will likely pay out better dividends in the future than a washed-up ex-POTUS.

    Trump is eminently familiar with the concept of dumping the wife for a new model. Guess what the GOP’s donors are doing right now? They are the stage where friends are being deployed to badmouth the ex in public to help turn opinions and make the divorce go through quicker.

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  11. Mark Floyd Sr says:

    If the Republicans turn their back on President Trump now, after all HE HAS done for them, rest assured your political careers are over! Just remember how strong and how many REAL PATRIOTS are out here. We want real American law makers not cowards.

  12. Kathy says:

    In the Roman empire it was tough for the Senate to depose the emperor, or even to move against him to limit his actions, without causing a civil war (which happened quite often, too, though usually started by the army).

    What they could do, and also very often did, was damn an emperor’s memory after he died. This involved denying him deification, striking his name from records and monuments or inscriptions, and overall pretending he never really existed.

    This never prevented a single future bad or terrible emperor from being overly ambitious, tyrannical, or terrible in other ways.

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  13. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yup.

    One thing I forgot to point out is that Luttig is ignoring the difference between the House impeaching (which will take place today while Trump is still POTUS) and the Senate trial/conviction which may take place afterward the transition (unless McConnell joins Schumer in calling them back into session under the emergency framework passed after 9/11).

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  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @SKI:

    SCOTUS has already made clear that impeachment challenges arehave been non-justiciablein the past.

    Would be overjoyed to be wrong on this, but I think I FTFY. 🙁

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  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: My take is that reversing the consequences of impeachment would constitute stopping it well enough. If some ignint cracker is convicted of a felony but doesn’t go to prison or suffer any other abridgement of his rights as a citizen, does the conviction matter?

    I realize that impeachment is political, not criminal, but I think the comparison stands just the same. For my money in either situation, having the consequences quashed would be just as good as saying “no you can’t try him.” Maybe better.

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  16. Blue Galangal says:

    @Kathy: I’d be pretty happy if I wasn’t paying him $1.2m a year to spread sedition and hatred, though.

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  17. KM says:

    @Kathy:
    Arx tarpeia Capitoli proxima – words the GOP might not know but instinctively fear. They will do nothing that risks their own necks but are happy to show up at the last minute to pile on. All these calls for unity and even offering to join in punishing the fallen Emperor? It’s to protect the fortunes of the upcoming one they plan on enthroning and because nobody wants to be dragged to the cliff side.

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  18. Kathy says:

    @KM:

    GOP calls for “unity” when they are out of national power and liable to suffer consequences, are nothing short of gall. Like the story of the man who killed his parents, then asked the court for mercy because he’s an orphan.

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  19. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Thanks for beating me me to the punch, Ozark. I’d call Mitch a lying rabid weasel but that’s an insult to lying rabid weasels.

    After last night’s storm, out on the patio enjoying coffee & cigar in sunshine.

    2
  20. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Well it’s done.
    First President impeached twice.
    (Also first President to lose the popular vote twice.)
    So much winning. I’m tired of all this winning.

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  21. CSK says:

    Ten Republicans voted to impeach Trump. I hope they have good security.

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  22. Kylopod says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Also first President to lose the popular vote twice.

    Nitpick. John Q. Adams and Benjamin Harrison both lost the popular vote twice.

    Maybe if he isn’t barred from running again and does somehow become the nominee in 2024, he can become the first president to lose the popular vote three times.

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  23. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The Constitution says “the Chief Justice shall preside”. What do we do if Roberts just declines?

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  24. JDM says:

    I originally thought that impeaching Trump a second time would be a mistake as it would never lead to his removal, and it would just give the Trumpsters another reason to complain about how their side is mistreated. But after reading this article by Never Trumper, conservative writer Bill Kristol, in The Bulkwerk, I’ve changed my mind and now support this second impeachment. With luck, Trump might even get removed from office this time around.
    https://thebulwark.com/democrats-the-time-to-act-is-now/

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  25. CSK says:

    I do hope acting president Pence has ordered Trump to be restrained and sedated. He must be psychotic.

  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    I forgot to mention the other day – in addition to the sedition statutes, we can also conceivably get him with 18 US 373. We may legitimately be looking at the first president in US history to actually be indicted.

    2
  27. Kathy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    One would like to think so, but there’s no way, none, that Trump walks out the White House without a pardon*, either by himself or by President Pence (who will join Trump in trivia nights as the shortest serving President).

    Oh, BTW, anyone suffering from Trump Impeachment Twitter Withdrawal Syndrome, can simply look up in some archive or other for his twits after the first impeachment. they’re probably what he’d have tweeted now if he could tweet at all.

    *Unless he manages to negotiate a non-prosecution deal with Biden. Me, if I were in Biden’s position, would offer him this deal: I’ll commute the sentence to time served after you’re convicted, dear Donnie. Take it, or take your chances.

  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    The fun part is that there is no precedent for a presidential self-pardon, and a strong argument to be made that were one to ever be issued, it would be invalid on face. No man is entitled to sit in judgment of himself.

    2
  29. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    “Solicitation to commit a crime of violence”…

    That would fit.

    1
  30. Kathy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Yup. I really wish he does it, just so it can be tested in the courts.

  31. gVOR08 says:

    This is the second place I’ve seen Luttig’s name today. I Googled one John Eastman and found he was a protégé of Luttig. Mr. Eastman turned up in an LGM post quoting a NYT story,

    In the Oval Office last week, the day before the vote, Mr. Trump pushed Mr. Pence in a string of encounters, including one meeting that lasted at least an hour. John Eastman, a conservative constitutional scholar at Chapman University, was in the office and argued to Mr. Pence that he did have the power to act.

    Mr. Pence did not wish to act to overturn the EC vote. Setting aside any relationship issues between Pence and Trump, his reasons seem obvious to anyone except Trump, and Mr. Eastman. Pence shopped around for more congenial advice.

    I find it entertaining that besides being a protégé of Mr. Luttig, Mr. Eastman is chairman of the Federalist Society’s Federalism & Separation of Powers practice group. He may well have thought he could convince the FS Justices on the Court to overthrow the election. I find the Federalist Society really scary. Trump is going away, but the FS isn’t.

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  32. CSK says:
  33. dazedandconfused says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Rudy’s “trial by combat” seems a slam-dunk under 18 US 373. He, at least, should be indicted. Can’t think of anything Trump said that was as blatant as “combat” though. Only one way to test it out… by all means “Let the games begin!”

  34. flat earth luddite says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    As an American citizen and child of the revolution, I’m appalled that it’s come to this. OTOH, as a recovering Della Street, I can’t contain my giggles. Pass the popcorn, please.

  35. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Indeed. It’s broad enough to lend itself to this scenario IMO. I found section c to be particularly relevant.