Impeachment Trial: The Six Republican Senators Trump and McConnell Should Qorry About
Historic Trump impeachment calls for a new chapter in 'Profiles in Courage.' From Alexander and Collins to Murkowski and Romney, 6 possible authors.
Since the 2018 elections produced a Democratic majority in the House, every discussion about impeachment has begun and ended with the assumption that the Republican-controlled Senate would brush aside any impeachment, line up behind Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and exonerate President Donald Trump. As Brookings scholar William Galston told The Washington Post last fall, “There's a reason why 'Profiles in Courage' is a very short book.”
This historic moment would be a good time for a new chapter. If we look at individual senators, men and women facing the most consequential decision of their careers, it seems quite possible that Trump’s presidency does not rest on a strong foundation; rather, it hangs by a slim thread.
Just four Republican senators will make the difference between a quick, cursory trial and calling witnesses who could turn the tide toward conviction and removal. Here are six GOP senators who might do Trump in:
►Mitt Romney of Utah. The former Republican presidential nominee called Trump’s pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “wrong and appalling.” This reaction was predictable from Romney, who spoke out against Trump in 2016 and has continued to be critical. In an October interview with USA TODAY, Romney, 72, described himself as free to do "entirely what I believe is absolutely right. ... And I hope that my kids down the road will say, 'Yeah, you know our dad, our grandfather, our great-grandfather was a person of integrity and honored his oath of office.' ” That sounds like a man who is ready to draw a sharp contrast with Trump.
Maine's independent tradition
►Susan Collins of Maine. Collins disappointed many supporters and friends, including me, when she voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and she faces a very tough reelection campaign this year as a result. But Collins has proved her independence in the past. She angered McConnell by backing President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus in 2009 and opposing repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2017. Collins came to Washington in 1974 to intern for then-Rep. William Cohen, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which was then considering President Richard Nixon's impeachment. She also played an active role in the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. Collins cherishes her position in Maine's long line of independent senators — above all, the iconic Margaret Chase Smith, whose statement of conscience attacking Sen. Joseph McCarthy came more than four years before the Senate and the country turned against him.
►Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Murkowski’s reaction to Trump’s treatment of Zelensky was instantaneous: “You don’t hold up foreign aid that we had previously appropriated for a political initiative. Period.” She has expressed discomfort with McConnell’s outspoken commitment to coordinate trial strategy with Trump. Murkowski waged an unlikely write-in campaign to win reelection to the Senate in 2010 after losing to a Tea Party extremist in a primary. She stood alone among Republicans to oppose the Kavanaugh nomination, and she joined Collins and Sen. John McCain of Arizona to block repealing the ACA. This headline from Alaska Public Media captures her fierce independence: “Murkowski, true to form, breaks with GOP colleagues on ethical questions about Trump.”