I have said since the word “impeachment” was first mentioned, that there would be no chance the Senate would vote to convict, even if the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump. Moscow Mitch McConnell has indicated that he would not even allow the case to be tried in “his” Senate. But, there are some signs that the republicans are beginning to see Trump in a less favourable light these days.
Twice this summer I have written about Republicans for the Rule of Law (RRL), “a group of life-long Republicans dedicated to defending the institutions of the republic and upholding the rule of law.” Earlier this year, the group sponsored a 30-second ad calling for Trump’s impeachment that was aired on none other than Fox and Friends. They also hand-delivered a copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to every lawmaker in the republican party.
This week, our friend Keith wrote a post titled Republicans for the Rule of Law condemn Trump behavior (and obstruction) with Ukraine in which he updates us, telling us that RRL is once again standing for law and justice and calling Trump out on his recent actions. Be sure to check out Keith’s post for more information. The group has a new 30-second ad out now …
Bill Kristol is a neoconservative political analyst and frequent commentator on several networks, who has held senior positions in both Ronald Reagan’s and George H.W. Bush’s administrations. Kristol is also one of the co-directors of Defending Democracy Together, the ‘parent’ organization for Republicans for Rule of Law. Yesterday, Kristol wrote an OpEd in the New York Times that bears reading.
Republicans Don’t Have to Nominate Trump in 2020
The party can do better.
Republicans have had their differences these past few years. Most have supported President Trump; a few have not. Some of the president’s supporters have been enthusiastic; many have not. Some of the reluctant Trump supporters have expressed reservations at certain times; many have not.
But with the revelations of the last week, and the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry, we are at a new moment. This is obviously the case for Republicans in Congress, who will have to vote on impeachment and perhaps on conviction. They have a unique part to play in this drama; the rest of us are merely observers or advisers. All we can really now ask of members of Congress is to keep an open mind and to evaluate the facts as they emerge.
But we already have learned enough to know that the government whistle-blower is correct to say “that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” We know this latest instance is part of a history of repeated injuries and usurpations. We may not yet know whether removal from the office to which President Trump was elected is warranted. But surely we know enough to judge that Mr. Trump does not deserve renomination for that office for an additional four years.
The Republican Party faces a binary choice. It either will or will not renominate Donald Trump in 2020. (And if President Trump is removed as a consequence of impeachment and conviction, or if he resigns, the G.O.P. either will or will not nominate as its standard-bearer a newly sworn-in Mike Pence, who will have been at Mr. Trump’s side for his entire administration and has been a fervent defender of the president.)
The 2020 Republican nomination is an open question. It is a decision of great consequence on which all Republicans have a say, and all have a responsibility. Republican leaders in particular — Republican elected officials and former elected officials, Republican activists and donors, appointees of this administration and of former Republican administrations — bear a weighty responsibility. They can support Donald Trump, and put a stamp of approval on his tenure in office. They can keep quiet, a stamp of approval of its own sort. Or they can step up and act for the honor of their party and the good of their country.
There are currently three announced Republican challengers to Donald Trump. Republican leaders could in various ways support one or all three of them. There are also other Republicans who might well be stronger candidates for the nomination and who may well be more qualified to serve as president. Those individuals could be encouraged by colleagues, activists and donors, privately or publicly, to run — and they could be offered support if they do.
And may I say directly to those Republicans who could run: You have a unique chance to act for your party and your country. You can play a role in overcoming the shame and stain of the past three years, and in the reformation of a once great party. Win or lose, you will go down in the history books as a man or woman of honor.
The Republican Party has surely discovered over the past few years the wisdom of Virgil: “The gates of hell are open night and day; Smooth the descent, and easy is the way.”
But Republican leaders of conscience and courage now have an unusual moment “to return, and view the cheerful skies,” as Virgil put it. “In this the task and mighty labor lies.”
No, this doesn’t mean Mitch McConnell will immediately find his cojones and do the right thing, nor that the fools in the House Freedom Caucus will “see the light” and understand what Trump is doing to this nation. But, it’s a start. Some republicans have had enough of Trump and find that they can no longer support him. The movement is gathering momentum, I think, and if it starts getting loud enough, the republicans in Congress will either listen or else pack up their belongings and go home in January 2021. I’m not convinced that the congressional republicans will support impeachment, but I think what we are seeing is a step … a baby step perhaps, but a step nonetheless in the right direction.