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Monday, December 09, 2019

Republican Senators Struggling To Defend Trump From Impeachment

The House’s impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s alleged plot to withhold critical security aid to Ukraine in order to force them into investigating his political adversaries is now entering its second month — yet Senate Republicans are still struggling with how to handle it.

And, according to the Washington Post, Republicans are reluctant to defend Trump’s behavior both because there is no good defense, and because there’s worry they’ll have egg on their face if and when more troubling Trump conduct surfaces.

“It feels like a horror movie,” an unnamed “veteran” Republican senator told the Washington Post.

Worried about losing support from GOP Senators — who would be in charge of voting to convict and remove Trump from office should the House approve articles of impeachment — the White House set up a “war room” to ensure Senate Republicans don’t abandon Trump.

Yet Senate Republicans do not seem convinced, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell privately expressing concern for how his members should handle the impeachment situation, according to the Washington Post’s report.

“What’s causing the most pause is, what else is out there? What is around the corner?” an unnamed Republican strategist told the Washington Post. “If they say something in defense of the president or against the impeachment inquiry now, will they be pouring cement around their ankles?”

Of course, some of Trump’s top defenders in the Senate — such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — have tried to defend Trump. Graham wouldn’t condemn Trump’s use of the term “lynching” to describe the impeachment inquiry Trump faces. He also filed a resolution condemning the House-led inquiry last week.

Yet even Graham struggled to defend Trump, inadvertently criticizing Trump as he announced the resolution.

Ultimately, Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2020 in competitive states are in the most trouble when it comes to the impeachment situation.

They have to walk the line of not alienating the Republican base — which still supports Trump — while at the same time not pushing away independent voters they also need to win.

Senators who are up for reelection in 2020 and are explicitly having trouble defending Trump include:

  • Cory Gardner of Colorado — who has been hammered for dodging questions about Trump’s conduct. Gardner faces reelection in a state where Trump is deeply unpopular and where Trump lost by a wide margin in the 2016 presidential election.
  • Susan Collins of Maine, who also faces reelection in a state where Trump’s popularity is sliding.
  • Joni Ernst of Iowa, who was confronted by a constituent over her support for Trump at a town hall earlier this month. Ernst came under fire after she said she was too busy to read the initial whistleblower complaint that kicked off the impeachment inquiry.
  • And Martha McSally of Arizona, who was appointed to the vacant Senate seat of the late John McCain, even though McSally had lost a race for Arizona’s other Senate seat in 2018.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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