But getting McConnell and at least 16 other Republicans to condemn Trump after he leaves is a different matter altogether.
“There is no lost love for Trump in the Senate Republican Conference,” said a GOP source familiar with the internal discussions. “Everyone is ready for this end. But there is a really open question about how many people will vote to convict him after his term expires.”
Several senior GOP sources told CNN on Thursday that many Republicans are torn over whether Trump’s actions guarantee an unprecedented move to ban him from serving again after he leaves the White House next week.
Republicans say it will ultimately depend on a combination of factors ̵
In private, Republicans have reviewed internal opinion polls showing that Trump’s support has been clashing with election day voters – especially since last week when he incited a violent mob of his supporters to Capitol riots that killed five people. claim two sources. But even after he leaves office, he will still retain significant influence over the GOP base, something Republicans facing re-election – and potential primary challenges – will be forced to face.
Republicans are generally divided into several camps. Some, such as Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, oppose the proceedings because they believe it is constitutionally doubtful to convict a president after he leaves office, a position many Republicans are required to take.
“I doubt we can even hold a trial for a former president, which we are dealing with here,” GOP Sen. Kevin Kramer of North Dakota said on Thursday.
Others, such as Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, are likely to join many Republicans in the House who have said the impeachment process will further divide the country.
“Impeachment voting will only lead to more hatred and a deeply fragmented nation,” said Scott, who faces voters in 2022 this week.
Still, some Republicans say it’s crucial to put up a marker to make it clear that Congress will not stand up for future presidents who can follow in Trump’s footsteps – and that the president’s actions have crossed a clear line. which should never be reproduced again.
“I think this is one of the most consistent actions we need to take, and I think it would be appropriate.”
In a statement Thursday, Murkowski said he would “listen carefully” to the arguments before deciding on her vote, but said the chamber acted “quickly and I believe it is appropriate with impeachment.”
McConnell, in turn, told private colleagues that he was genuinely undecided and would keep an open mind when listening to the arguments presented by the impeachment managers of the House of Democrats, according to people familiar with the matter. He wants to let the passions cool for the moment and let the process unfold before taking the position that many believe it will be the key to shaking Republican Senate votes – and determining whether Trump is convicted.
“There is no difference in the (GOP) conference that there are potentially impeachment crimes here,” said the first Republican source. “I think almost everyone believes that.”
In fact, many remain sharply critical of Trump’s remarks to his supporters at last week’s rally ahead of the Capitol uprising.
“If nothing else, he called in a very emotional situation, a lot of inappropriate actions by people who seem to be his supporters,” said Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, after the rebels stormed the Capitol.
Republican senators, who are out of Washington until next week, are mostly silent before the trial. More than a dozen GOP Senate offices either refused or refused Thursday’s request for comment on the House’s approval of an impeachment member who accuses Trump of inciting an uprising and is backed by 10 Republicans in the House.
Democrats are considering whether to bring witnesses, they plan to argue the constitutional qualities
House Democrats, realizing they had to persuade at least 17 Republicans to stick to the conviction, began building their work internally. Among the issues they are trying to resolve are whether to attract outside witnesses, including Georgian Secretary of State Brad Rafensperger, whose interaction with Trump was quoted in the impeachment article after the president pressured a Republican official to “find” the necessary votes to overturn the victory of Joe Biden in the state.
“We will get your answers, as we will get some answers,” Ruskin said Wednesday night, when asked if he would look for witnesses in the impeachment process as he entered the apartment of Parliament Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Walter Jones, a spokesman for Georgia’s secretary of state, would not say Thursday whether Rafensperger or another senior election official, Gabriel Sterling, would like to testify at the trial.
“Our team is fully focused on the current session of the General Assembly of Georgia at the moment,” Jones told CNN.
Ruskin, a constitutional researcher, is expected to argue that there is enough precedent for the Senate to convict a federal employee after leaving office, a case that is central to persuading some GP senators sitting on the fence, as Trump’s defense team argues for such an action is unconstitutional.
“Whether the Senate has the constitutional authority to impeach a president who is no longer in office is debatable,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania who has emerged as the Republican’s leading critic of Trump’s post-election rhetoric. . “If the Senate holds a trial, I will once again fulfill my responsibility to consider arguments from both chamber managers and President Trump’s lawyers.”
There has never been an impeachment process for a former president, and Trump’s allies say the Senate has no constitutional authority to hold a trial for the president after he leaves office. The Senate has convicted only eight employees in history.
The constitution, Vladek noted, says the Senate’s decision in impeachment cases includes dismissal, as well as “deprivation of the right to borrow and enjoy any honor, trust, or gain under the United States.”
“This last clause is key, as it leads to the House that the Senate must make two decisions in impeachment cases: First, it must decide whether an officer should be removed,” Vladek wrote. “Then he has to decide whether that person should be disqualified to hold any future federal service. In fact, of the eight officials the Senate once voted to remove, he subsequently voted to disqualify only three of them – reinforcing that removal and disqualification are separate inquiries. “
In his statements on the forthcoming trial, McConnell did not imply that he believed that this would be unconstitutional or that he would make efforts to stop the trial on this ground. Yet Republicans, including McConnell, may eventually be shaken by the arguments and could cite Trump’s status as a former president as a reason not to vote to condemn him.
In a note received from CNN outlining the impeachment schedule, McConnell did not question whether the process should happen. But he raised a question that still doesn’t have a clear answer: will Chief Justice John Roberts preside like him over Trump’s first impeachment trial.
“When a seated president is tried by the Senate, the Constitution requires the chief justice to preside over the process. Senate impeachment rules require the Senate to invite the chief judge to attend the Senate and preside over the process,” McConnell wrote. “Usually this invitation will be sent on January 19. However, whether the chief judge will actually preside over the trial after President Trump ceases to be president on January 20 is still unclear.”
Trump sees support for the GOP eroding as Republicans watch the primary
Even as the GP’s support for Trump began to wane, many Republicans have to worry about the political consequences at home. A GOP source said an internal poll from election day saw Trump slip more than double-digit among Republican voters nationally.
Still, Trump supporters are bound to be a force in the Republican primary – and the way they vote for a verdict is likely to set the tone for the election cycle.
The landscape is challenging for Republicans in the Senate when they have to defend 20 seats compared to 14 for Democrats. Senate Republicans elected for re-election, who find Trump guilty, could easily face Trump-backed primary contenders. Prior to the riots, Trump was already demanding a major challenge to Senate Republican Sen. John Thun of South Dakota, saying the president’s efforts to cancel the election would fail.
“You just have to take things in stride,” Tun said, leaving the Capitol on the night of the riots, asked if he was worried about the main challenge. “This is a free country. I suspect we will see a lot of this activity in the next few years for some of our members – myself included. You just have to play the hand you got.”
While Trump has been significantly weakened politically as a result of the unrest he has sparked, there is still a chance that there will be a loyal pro-Trump base in the Republican Party after he leaves office. Close-ups include Roy Blunt of Missouri, Rob Portman of Ohio and Todd Young of Indiana.
Many stay with their mother about how they can go down.
“I believe we have to wait and hear the evidence,” said Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, an 86-year-old Republican veteran who could retire instead of seeking re-election in 2022. “And as a juror, I would consider carefully the evidence presented. “
CNN’s Alex Rodgers contributed to this report.