What’s the Republican Message Going to Be?

Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

Nancy Pelosi is known to be great at counting votes. She would not have started the impeachment process if she weren’t sure to have the votes. Unless something dramatic happens, Donald Trump is therefore likely to be impeached by the House.

The Republican base is still strongly supporting Trump. The electorate as a whole seems split on the matter. In other words: There is no reason for Republicans in the Senate to defect from Trump. He is therefore likely to be acquitted in the Senate.

So, wake me up when it’s over?

Not really. Because here’s the point: Nobody denies that Donald Trump used the office of the presidency to get a political gain. Democrats say this is what the Founding Fathers meant by bribery. Some say it’s just asking for a favor, it’s very common. Trump himself even calls it a perfect call. Other Republicans insist on the fact that there was no “quid pro quo”, meaning that Trump did not withhold military aid in order to pressure Ukraine to get the favor. But all this doesn’t change the basic point, which is that nobody denies that President Trump actually did ask President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden. And Republicans will have to say what they think about it.

So far, the strategy of Republicans in the House was to largely ignore the witnesses and go on the counteroffensive. Once the case moves to the Senate, where Republicans hold the majority, the spotlight will be on the Republicans. So, what’s the message going to be? Will they agree with Trump and say that this was a perfect call and therefore set a precedent for all coming presidents? There will for sure be enormous pressure coming from the White House.

At the same time, there are some vulnerable Republicans who are up for reelection in swing states and who face tremendous pressure at home. One might think of Cory Gardner from Colorado, Susan Collins from Maine, or Joni Ernst from Iowa. It’s hard to imagine that they could get away with simply voting to dismiss this and go back home saying that it was not a high crime and therefore not impeachable.

Unless something dramatic happens, the outcome of this process seems pretty clear to me. But it will be interesting to watch what the Republican message will be along the way.

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