Let’s take a look at the latest survey data on the subject of President Trump’s potential removal from office for committing high crimes and misdemeanors.
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I guess the president can be grateful for that Quinnipiac outlier that is bringing the overall RCP average below fifty percent. But I think it should be bigger news that the consensus of recent polls finds that a majority of registered voters already support the impeachment—and conviction—of Donald Trump.
Republican lawmakers are certainly nervous when they see numbers like this, but we’ve seen them ignore far more overwhelming public opinion shifts during this session of Congress. For example, as the Washington Post reported in September, the GOP appears impervious to the voters’ desires with respect to gun control.
In theory, then, we could reach a point in which 89 percent of the public wants Trump removed from office and the Republican-controlled Senate will still acquit him.
Yet, I don’t think that is the true state of affairs. Republican senators are furious with the president for a host of reasons, including his recent green lighting a Turkish invasion of Syrian Kurdistan. And, unlike with proposed gun control legislation, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can’t refuse to take impeachment up or avoid a roll call vote. The political costs of acquitting the president will be more immediate and severe than the costs of doing nothing on guns.
Still, the public is going to need to be substantially more emphatic than they are currently if they want the Senate to do the right thing. To get an idea of what I mean, look at this reporting from Rachael Bade and Erica Werner of the Washington Post on the closed-door weekly luncheon the Republican senators held on Wednesday:
During the meeting, [Sen. Lindsey] Graham lobbied his colleagues to consider a public declaration in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), which would describe Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky seeking an investigation into a domestic political rival as “unimpeachable.” Some senators, however, pushed back against that idea, arguing that Trump would assume that those who did not sign the document would be persuadable on a vote to oust him.
If this reporting is correct, there are two groups of senators in the Republican caucus. One is willing to sign a letter saying it is not an impeachable offense to withhold congressionally authorized military aid until a foreign country agrees to manufacture evidence against a potential political rival. The other is unwilling to sign something like that but, more importantly, doesn’t want to give anyone the impression that they might be persuaded that it’s an impeachable offense.
That’s not an encouraging and open-minded mentality on display there. It seems quite possible that the Republican Party is simply wrecked and beyond fixing.