Writing in the Guardian, Robert Reich sounds kind of stupid suggesting that there is a real possibility that as many as twenty Republican senators will vote to convict President Trump and remove him from office.
House Democrats will vote to impeach, but will Senate Republicans vote to convict? Until now that seemed implausible. Democrats hold 47 Senate seats. If they all vote to convict, 20 Republicans would have to join them in order to have the necessary two-thirds of the Senate.
What was implausible is now possible. If the vote were held in secret, says Republican strategist Mike Murphy, 30 Republicans would vote today for impeachment. Former Republican senator Jeff Flake puts the likely number at 35.
I’d like to believe that Trump would certainly be convicted in a secret vote. However, I’m not certain that that is true, and the vote isn’t going to be secret. Anyone voting to convict is going to have to face the consequences. And that means that they’ll have to be convinced either that they can survive politically or that they really don’t care if they don’t.
There are certainly a few Republican senators who could survive such a vote, and some of them may be safe from a primary challenge by the time they have to decide. A few others are retiring, and we’ve seen how those who are retiring are much more willing to criticize the president. It’s not clear, however, that some of the people Reich identifies, like Susan Collins of Maine and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, can win reelection without the enthusiastic support of the Republican base. Even if most of the voters in their states strongly support conviction, they may calculate that they can’t improve their chances by bucking Trump’s supporters.
I think conviction is possible, but it will have to involve some behind-the-scenes coordination. The worst vote for a Republican senator is a vote to convict that isn’t upheld by their colleagues. However, there is safety in numbers, and if Trump is removed so will be most of his mystique and appeal to Republican voters. So, if he goes down, it will probably look like a snowball effect, with more and more senators joining to convict as it becomes clear that removal is a real possibility. This obviously will not happen unless the ball gets rolling. So, the first requirement is that a few senators go on the record. Until then, I am not hopeful.