The start of the impeachment process has exposed the cracks that the assault on the Capitol has opened in the monolith of unconditional loyalty to Trump that the Republican Party had become.
A year after not a single Republican voted to impeach the president for the Ukrainian plot, this time the leadership of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives has given up on formally pressuring its congressmen to vote against it.
The lower house approved the impeachment on Wednesday afternoon , and 10 Republicans voted in favor. An unusual figure. It is the most bipartisan impeachment in history.
Support for the process is also detected by some Republican senators, who are expected to vote to convict the president when the upper house holds the impeachment trial. But no move is as significant as that of Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican on Capitol Hill, Majority Leader in the Senate until new Democratic control materializes.
McConnell, incarnation of the Republican establishment’s self – serving alliance with the businessman, has concluded that impeachment gives them the opportunity to purge Trump from the party, sources close to the senator revealed Tuesday night.
Also the main Republican authority in the other House of the Capitol, minority leader Kevin McCarthy, seems to have ended his unconditional loyalty to the president. In Wednesday’s debate in the House of Representatives, McCarthy said that Trump “has responsibility” for the assault on Congress.
However, he argued against proceeding with impeachment so close to the end of his term and instead promotes a resolution of no-confidence to the president for his actions.
Even before McConnell’s machinations were leaked, a number of Republican congressmen had raised their voices. Including Liz Cheney, the party’s number three in the House, who defended that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States in his charge and his oath on the Constitution.”
The number of 10 Republicans who have voted in favor is more than considerable, considering that none supported the last impeachment of Trump, and that only five Democrats voted for three of the four articles of the impeachment process of Bill Clinton. In the upper house, McConnell’s team is counting on the possibility of a dozen Republican senators to vote to convict Trump.
A battle between the short and the long term is raging in the consciences of Republican legislators. The immediate harm in walking away from Trump is clear. The November presidential election, and the primary process that preceded it, made it clear that the Republican ranks are with Trump.
Voting for the impeachment of the president may pose challenges for many Republican senators in the primaries ahead of the 2022 legislative elections, where the party will have to defend 20 of the 34 seats at stake.
The president’s team has already been in charge of remembering it. “80% of Trump voters and 76% of Republicans in contested states are less likely to vote for a congressman or senator who vote for impeachment”Tweeted President’s advisor Jason Miller, citing an internal poll.
In the long run, by contrast, arguments abound for a break with Trump. The party has become nothing short of a Trump cult in these four years. Proof of this is that, at the Republican National Convention this summer, he gave up even debating and approving an electoral program.
“We will continue,” explained the formation, “enthusiastically supporting the agenda” of Trump. Now, with the White House and the two Houses of Congress lost, and after contemplating the disturbing insurrection mounted in the name of their leader, doubts arise that they did not do so in these four years. Out of conviction, and also out of personal ambition.
Members with presidential aspirations are not seduced by the idea that the Trump family and their acolytes monopolize the Old Big Party.
There is, finally, a more mundane argument. McConnell spoke over the weekend, according to the Associated Press, with prominent party donors to test them out. And many told him that they considered Trump to have crossed a red line. McConnell, according to sources from the aforementioned agency, told them that he had finished with Trump.