A clear moment for the GOP during the impeachment trial


WASHINGTON – Donald Trump’s second indictment hearing offers a clearing moment for the GOP.

As the trial began Tuesday, Republican senators remained deeply – though not evenly – divided on whether to condemn the party’s most powerful figure and forbidding the former president from taking office again. Six Republicans joined all 50 Democrats on the first day to confirm the Senate’s right to examine a former president.

Jamie Raskin, D-Md. Representative, the house’s chief accountability leader, showed them a video of the January 6 riot in the Capitol, recalling his efforts emotionally and in vivid detail to keep himself and his family safe.

“It can’t be the future,” Raskin said in a cracked voice.

Since Democrats have united Trump’s judgment, it will be up to Republicans to determine if the Senate will punish him for his role in the riot. Together, their individual decisions will not only facilitate the future of the Republican Party in the next two years before the 2022 mid-term elections, but perhaps well beyond that.

Not only will they decide whether Trump will remain the flagship of their party until the next presidential election, as a possible candidate for the office he has just lost, but also whether the GOP facility will continue to be determined by the type of populism on which he builds political his army and then armed for the purpose of the Capitol.

“The question is what direction the party will take,” said William Howell, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, about choosing the GOP between Trump’s wing and its more traditional conservative roots. “If we see Republicans basically voting for the dismissal across the board, we’re going to draw two things: populism will continue to maintain the party’s grip, and the significance of this distinction will fade a little.”

It is widely expected that the Senate will not condemn Trump and therefore leave open the possibility of his return in 2024 – when he turns 78 on election day.

Regardless of whether he starts again, if Trump is acquitted, Republicans will firmly tie their party to a president who, according to the majority of the bipartisan House, sparked an uprising when a group of his followers stormed the Capitol in a January 6 deadly attack. . With far louder and more enduring votes than their words, they condemn a commander who turns violently to try to overthrow the outcome of a legitimate election.

– What else would you wear? said Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Commission and a frequent critic of Trump. The possibility for Republican senators to refuse to ban Trump’s future office “will tell you exactly everything you need to know about where they are,” he added.

The indictment hearing on the corner of a series of votes in the House and behind closed doors confirmed both the divisions within the GOP and how worse Trump could be if the Senate votes by secret ballot.

At last week’s internal session, the Republican House of Representatives strongly voted to keep Liz Cheney, R-Wyo’s MP, in a leading position, despite calls for his removal because he voted to indict Trump. He was one of 10 Republicans who left Trump, the most ever voted against the president of his own party.

Ensuring the secrecy of the anonymous vote, 145 of the 206 House Republicans who voted wanted Cheney to remain one of the loudest faces on the House of Representatives.

Hours later, when the House voted for the committee mandate for rookie MP Marjorie Taylor Greene – this vote is a publicly registered issue – only 11 Republicans joined the unified democratic majority. When forced in public for or against Trump in public, most Republicans quickly find their way into their camp.

And while 5 percent of the Republican House was willing to blame Trump, the proportion of Senate Republicans who vote in favor of condemnation may be higher.

Mitt Romney, a Utah senator who was a GOP presidential candidate in 2012, voted against Trump’s conviction last year after the president was indicted on a separate case. Romney also voted against Rand Kentucky Senate, who tried unsuccessfully to declare the indictment of a former president unconstitutional.

Romney was joined on the Republican side by Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) and Ben Sasse (Nebraska). Senator Rob Portman, of R-Ohio, voted with Paul and the other pro-government countries, but said he did so only to force a debate on the constitutionality of the trial.

“I was very clear that, in the words and deeds of former President Trump, he has some responsibility for what happened on January 6,” Portman said in a January 26 statement. “As the trial progresses, I will listen to the evidence presented by both parties and then make a constitutional judgment and believe it is in the best interests of the country.”

For those who bridge the partisan divide, the White House and congressional democratic majorities are likely to find better fit with the priorities of other issues.

But Rebecca Kirszner Katz, an assistant to former Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), said the decision of individual senators was much more due to political practicality – they feared losing the primary challenge by voting. To condemn Trump – as a principle or a legislative option.

The difference, he said, is “basically those who run for re-election and those who retire.”

Portman, Toomey and Senator Richard Burr, RN.C., will not seek re-election in 2022. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Ala. He announced on Monday that he would retire at the end of this term as well.

Steele said that even under the direction of the Trump wing, there are GOPs like Cheney, Romney and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Who stood up for a more institutional wing.

“The battle lines are very sharply drawn,” Steele said. “Let’s fight this fight. But let’s just understand that this isn’t one of those situations where you fight to cling to something. You fight to get it back.”

Republican senators have a chance to define their party in the future.

“If traditional conservatives are unwilling to stand up to the president at this moment,” Howell, the GOP’s “right-wing populism party,” said.