President Trump is impeached in the House, but it seems almost impossible that the Senate would vote to remove him from office. Senators McConnell and Graham have made it plain they have no interest in an impartial trial of the President. However, as unjust as it all seems, the path to removing Trump from office for high crimes is still remarkably attainable. According to experts, this path relies on just three or four Republican Senators who come to their senses and follow their better angels.
How is this possible? It seems that no matter what Trump does, pandering Republicans will excuse it. But behind closed doors, they are singing a whole other tune. Former Senator Jeff Flake says that“at least 35” Republican senators would vote to remove Trump from office if they could vote in secret, thus avoiding political backlash for themselves.
In secret, they could vote their consciences, which we all wish they would do anyway.
Likewise, GOP strategist Mike Murphy has estimated that 30 senators want to vote against Trump after hearing from a sitting Republican senator.
According to ABC News, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois has also indicated that Republicans are not the staunch supporters of Trump that they appear to be in public. If they had the option of voting in a secret ballot, the senators would possibly remove Trump from office.
“I do believe that a number of senators, when they finally come to appreciate the gravity of this experience, may reflect on their place in history based on their vote one way or the other,” Durbin said. “I think it’s a part of my constitutional responsibility.”
To have the possibility of a secret ballot, just four Republican senators would have to support it, or three, along with the presiding Chief Justice John Roberts. Vice President Mike Pence won’t have a voice in impeachment.
An adviser for Republican politicians, Juleanna Glover, broked down what might happen in POLITICO:
“…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.”
Glover outlines how a secret ballot might even be welcomed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, at least in private.
“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. McConnell himself, facing reelection next year, has an approval rating of just 18 percent in Kentucky, not to mention that the Republican governor there just suffered a stunning upset in last week’s election. 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.”
Further, voting by secret ballot could give Trump an escape route as he faces a future fraught with legal hazards once he leaves the White House.
“A secret ballot might get Trump out of office sooner than everyone expects: The sooner any three Republican senators make clear that they will support nothing short of a secret ballot, the sooner Trump realizes his best course could be to cut a deal, trading his office for a get-out-of-jail-free card—a clean slate from prosecutors—just as Vice President Spiro Agnew did. And if Trump were to leave office before the end of the year, there might even be enough time for Republicans to have a vibrant primary fight, resulting in a principled Republican as the nominee.”
The Republican party might have a path forward to salvage itself from Trumpism, and Mr. Art of the Deal could make the deal of a lifetime, avoiding jail time. This might be the best deal he could possibly have, one only made possible due to his position of power. Will he take it?
Below, see more about the standoff as the House refuses to send articles of impeachment to the Senate unless rules for the trial are established first via MSNBC: