Conservative columnist: Mitch McConnell might be the key to removing Trump from office — here's why
Countless political pundits are predicting that President Donald Trump will be indicted on articles of impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives and subsequently acquitted by the GOP majority in the U.S. Senate. But conservative anti-Trump economist Niels Rosenquist, in an October 28 article for The Bulwark, theorizes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might be the key to removing Trump from office.
McConnell, of course, has been cited by many pundits as one of the main reasons why the Senate won’t remove Trump from office. The Senate majority leader has been a bitter partisan who often shows a deep contempt for Democrats: when President Barack Obama nominated centrist Judge Merrick Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, McConnell wouldn’t even consider the nomination.
But according to Rosenquist, the fact that McConnell is as much of a partisan as he is could be the reason why he ultimately turns against Trump and urges other GOP senators to do the same.
“What evidence suggests that Sen. McConnell, of all people, would be willing to stand up to Trump?,” Rosenquist writes. “He has shown no real inclination to oppose the president, who has delivered on tax reform and judges. Beneath the surface, however, there is evidence to suggest that not only might Sen. McConnell be able to make such a drastic move — he also might be the singular politician for whom such a move might be rational, based on his incentives.”
Although McConnell is motivated by self-interest, Rosenquist stresses, he is also looking at the big picture for the Republican Party — and if the Senate majority leader decides that Trump has become a liability for the GOP, he might decide that Vice President Mike Pence would make a better president.
“Even if it were theoretically possible to organize a bloc of senators to vote after an impeachment trial to remove the president from office, why would Sen. McConnell, a fierce partisan, ever agree to such a move?,” Rosenquist asserts. “One answer: he is also a forward-looking politician, and he apparently cares deeply about how he will be perceived by history.”
Rosenquist continues, “Sen. McConnell recognized early on that while elections and legislation come and go, judicial appointments can last decades — and so, he made them a major focus of his time as leader. Unlike, say, Lindsey Graham, who desperately wants to stay ‘relevant,’ Mitch McConnell cares deeply about his legacy — and chafes at his legacy being linked to Trump’s.”
Nonetheless, Rosenquist acknowledges that most Republicans in the Senate are terrified at the prospect of angering Trump — and that Trump’s hardcore MAGA supporters still adore him.
“The president is formally the leader of his party and wields enormous power,” Rosenquist observes. “The Republican base, which President Trump has consolidated among whites without college degrees and evangelicals, loves him. The president’s judicial appointments and tax legislation have made several key constituencies very happy, including evangelicals — a crucial source of votes — and one-percenters, a crucial source of cash.”
But McConnell, Rosenquist emphasizes, might decide that Pence would be more electable at the top of the GOP ticket than Trump in 2020 — in which case, he would throw Trump under the bus and encourage other GOP senators to do the same.
“In the short term, there would, of course, be extreme pushback from the president and his supporters, with fire directed at McConnell more than anyone else,” Rosenquist explains. “But Sen. McConnell is very good at taking heat: he does not seem to care about being the most unpopular politician in the country…. If Donald Trump continues to weaken, then for Mitch McConnell to convince his colleagues to act collectively against the president would be not only brave, but rational.”