Three GOP senators could force a simple rule change leading to Trump’s impeachment — here’s why McConnell might go for it
According to a column written for Politico by a former senior adviser to multiple Republican lawmakers, there is a path to forcing Donald Trump from office that would only require three GOP senators to join forces with the Democrats.
Under the heading, “There’s a Surprisingly Plausible Path to Removing Trump From Office,” Juleanna Glover — who served as an adviser to former President George W. Bush and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney — laid out a simple way to force an impeachment vote that would be conducted in secret, freeing GOP senators to turn on the president without fear of repercussions.
As she writes, “A secret impeachment ballot might sound crazy, but it’s actually quite possible. In fact, it would take only three senators to allow for that possibility.”
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will immediately move to hold a trial to adjudicate the articles of impeachment if and when the Senate receives them from the House of Representatives. Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution does not set many parameters for the trial, except to say that ‘the Chief Justice shall preside,’ and ‘no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present,'” she explained. “That means the Senate has sole authority to draft its own rules for the impeachment trial, without judicial or executive branch oversight.”
With that in mind, Glover writes that McConnell would require the support of 51 of the 53 Republican senators to proceed in any manner he deems appropriate.
However, as GOP adviser explains, three or more defections to the Democrats could be a game-changer.
“According to current Senate procedure, McConnell will still need a simple majority—51 of the 53 Senate Republicans—to support any resolution outlining rules governing the trial. That means that if only three Republican senators were to break from the caucus, they could block any rule they didn’t like. (Vice President Mike Pence can’t break ties in impeachment matters.) Those three senators, in turn, could demand a secret ballot and condition their approval of the rest of the rules on getting one,” she elaborated.”
“Trump and those around him seem confident that he won’t lose the 20 Republican senators needed to block a guilty verdict. But it’s not hard to imagine three senators supporting a secret ballot. Five sitting Republican senators have already announced their retirements; four of those are in their mid-70s or older and will never run for office again. They might well be willing to demand secrecy in order to give cover to their colleagues who would like to convict Trump but are afraid to do so because of politics in their home districts,” she continued, before adding, “There’s already been some public speculation that, should the Senate choose to proceed with a secret ballot, Trump would be found guilty.”
She also noted that one Republican consultant has claimed that, “a sitting Republican senator had told him 30 of his colleagues would vote to convict Trump if the ballot were secret.”
Glover also suggested there may be a silver lining for Trump in a secret ballot that could force him from office.
“If a secret ballot is agreed on and Trump knows the prospect of impeachment is near, he could then focus his energies on his post-presidency. Once he leaves office, Trump faces multiple possible criminal investigations, at the federal, state and local level. He almost certainly knows that a President Pence could pardon him only for federal crimes,” she wrote. “Trump’s impeachment, followed by a quick resignation, might appease Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s and New York Attorney General Letitia James’s thirst for justice, making them more likely to agree to a deal.”
She also added,m that McConnell might also find a secret ballot appealing.
“Even McConnell might privately welcome the prospect of a secret ballot. He has always been intently focused on maintaining his Republican majority in the Senate. Trump’s approval numbers continue to languish, and support for impeachment has been rising,” she explained. “All of which suggests McConnell might warm to the possibility that he and his caucus could avoid a public up-or-down vote in defense of behavior by the president that’s looking increasingly indefensible.”
You can read more details here.