Today, The New York Times reports that Senator Mitch McConnell was “pleased” Democrats were taking steps to impeach Donald Trump for a second time. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and John Katko (R-NY) followed this, announcing their support of Trump’s impeachment. Next was the statement from Adam Kinzinger (IL). This posture is in stark contrast to other Republican leaders who have been silent in condemning the President’s actions and have instead urged healing and calm rather than Trump’s removal from office.
On Monday, Republicans blocked a resolution floated by Democrats calling for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment after he “incited a mob of his supporters to attack the Capitol,” according to The Hill. But blocking the measure was only done to prevent them from going on record in a move against Trump. Indeed, Trump wants to run out the clock until January 20, and recently, so has the GOP.
“You don’t get to have one free coup attempt.” — Ted Lieu, U.S. Rep California
Asking to “hold our breath for the next 20 days,” Mitt Romney told reporters the GOP’s equivalent the question of impeachment would be “no comment.” This is the same deafening silence they shared for the past two months when asked if they would acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect. Some have argued that there isn’t enough time to remove Trump prior to the 20th, and therefore, it would be pointless.
But the points are clear: an ex-president can still be impeached, there is no requirement that the offender needs to be a sitting president so the trial can occur well after January 20. Though Trump would lose his pension and lofty travel allowance, those are not the most important reasons. A million dollars a year is peanuts anyway. Well, when you’re $1 billion in debt, that is.
The most crucial argument for impeachment is that Trump would be held accountable for his actions that led to death and destruction and would be prevented from holding office ever again, deflating any hopes of a 2024 grift.
Just days ago, Senator Lindsey Graham said on Twitter, “it is time to heal and move on” and that if Nancy Pelosi moved forward with impeachment in the final days of the Trump presidency, “it will do more harm than good.” He and other GOP leaders take their cues from Trump, who doubled down on his posture from last week, still showing no remorse for his part in the DC riot. He has yet even to mention the name of Brian Sicknick, the fallen Capital law enforcement officer.
While en route to Alamo today to declare success about the border wall (is Mexico still expecting the invoice for that?) Trump said, “people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.” Though you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone, even Republicans publicly acknowledge his message in the weeks leading up to and the day of the DC riot “appropriate.”
In a video statement where he took no questions from the press, Trump suggested that a second impeachment was “causing tremendous danger and anger.” The rhetoric was meant to deflect responsibility for his role in the riot, and another apparent dog whistle to his adoring fans should impeachment move forward.
Republicans have latched on to this narrative for the past week, stating that even more violence would occur if the President were charged with high crimes and misdemeanors. But that’s not the real reason for their hesitancy. Republicans didn’t want to be boxed into a corner that forced them to vote against Trump and risk losing his rabid fanbase.
Though Graham said he didn’t support actions to remove the President, he did note that “if something else happens, all options would be on the table.” Ted Lieu’s (D-CA) response was, “you don’t get to have one free coup attempt.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he was opposed to impeachment and instead floated four other options, including a toothless censure, a commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol, reforming the Electoral College, or legislation to “promote voter confidence” in federal elections.
While the Electoral College certainly needs to be dismantled (as I covered here), McCarthy’s “options” are a sleight of hand distraction to the critical issue — exploring the President’s and GOP leadership’s role in the insurrection and holding them accountable. At the end of the day, the GOP’s real concern that they don’t want to on record in a vote against Trump.
Mitch McConnell got his conservative judges and agenda and finally sucked Trump dry. He no longer needs the useful idiot.
That’s because several leaders aim to preserve Trump’s populist base cultivated in his four years as President. Senator’s Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley made Faustian deals this week to lean into Trump’s baseless election fraud challenges, not because they believed in the merits of his debunked electoral accusations or even believed that their feigned concern would result in any change to the election outcome.
And it’s not because they’re even afraid of Trump at this point — how could they be? He’s been effectively silenced, removed from every social platform, and can’t even coax a White House intern to use their Twitter account.
They were afraid of losing Trump’s base, which they hope to secure for future public office runs, and possibly the 2024 presidential election.
A turning red tide
Now that McConnell has signaled his approval of impeachment, expect more of the GOP to grow some spine, especially since most Americans agree. A Quinnipiac University study revealed that Trump’s approval rating is now 33%, tying his all-time low in August 2017. And 52% of Americans would like to see Trump removed from office.
It’s no surprise to see McConnell find pleasure in potentially “purging” Trump from the Republican party, as reported in The New York Times. McConnell got his conservative judges and agenda and finally sucked Trump dry. He no longer needs the useful idiot. Neither does the rest of the GOP.