There are some flaws to what Jennifer Rubin lays out as a way for Senate Republicans to vote to convict Trump and remove him from office, but I want to present what she outlined. Rubin bases this possibility on what she calls the Romney/Murkowski Senate Republicans and adds this data:
How many Mitt Romneys and Lisa Murkowskis are out there? Well, let’s look at some polling. Morning Consult finds that “Republicans representing Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Maine and Iowa all saw their net approval — the share of voters who approve of a senator’s job performance minus the share who disapprove — decline between the second and third quarters of 2019.” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who could not manage to tell us whether it is wrong for the president to enlist a foreign government to influence our elections, are down 9 points and 3 points, respectively.Ernst is in particular trouble. “The slide places her underwater with Iowa voters (39 percent approve and 43 percent disapprove) for the first time and among the 10 most unpopular senators in the country,” the polls found. “Iowa voters of all partisan leanings soured on the first-term senator, but GOP voters were most likely to take a dimmer view of her job performance. Her net approval dropped by 13 points among Republicans, compared with respective 9- and 7-point drops among Democrats and independents.” Uh-oh.Ernst is not alone. “Ernst is not the only Republican up for re-election next year with a home-state approval below 40 percent: Among the vulnerable incumbents, Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Thom Tillis of North Carolina are all below that threshold following a quarter where each saw little movement.”
Rubin points out that Democrats in those states are rising while the Republican senate candidates sinking.
If vunerable Senate Republicans start to tank and look to lose their reelections, this will put pressure on Moscow Mitch. I agree with her that Moscow Mitch cares about one thing only: his senate majority. Yes, Moscow Mitch has made a deal with the devil with Trump, but risk his position of power for Trump? Highly doubtful that Moscow Mitch would go for that.
OK. Moscow Mitch would dump Trump if it was the price to maintain power in the senate.
McConnell, infamous for his shameless, ice-water-in-his-veins brand of politics, will do whatever he must to save his members. If that means shoving Trump off-stage, he will gladly do it. (Notice his especially tough condemnation of Trump’s Syria debacle.)
What might make it possible for Moscow Mitch to dump Trump is if there is a future President Pence to pardon Trump. In this scenario, Trump is pressured to resign in exchange for a pardon. Republicans are then off the hook for going on record against Trump, and they keep getting to stuff the judiciary full of extremist judges.
The problems with this scenario is two fold. First, Trump is Trump and probably won’t resign. Resignation is for losers! Next, Moscow Mitch might allow the vunerable Senate Republicans to vote for conviction but insist everyone else not. Trump is not convicted, but the vunerable Senate Republicans have voted their “conscience.”
The problem with that last bit is that when an unpopular policy or vote is done, voters don’t distinguish between individuals who voted for or against the unpopular vote. They look at it by parties. Remember all those House or Senate Democrats who were allowed to vote against the ACA? It made no difference to the voters. The Republican voters who turned out in 2010 voted against any Democrat, and no “Wait! I voted against Obama!” message helped save those Democrats. If Trump is not removed from office by the Senate, I have my doubts that Collins or Gardner will be able to say, “I voted to convict! Don’t blame me if my party didn’t vote to convict!”
Anyway, Rubin’s outcome for Trump is possible. I’m just not sure how likely it is.