While speaking with Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace said that a "well-connected" Republican source in Washington had put the chances of enough Republicans voting to remove Donald Trump at 20 percent. The revelation calls into question the conventional wisdom that Republicans will vote to protect Trump in a Senate trial.
During the interview, Wallace cited Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s op-ed in the Washington Post calling President Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds in Syria “a grave mistake” and last week’s House vote rebuking the president in which 129 Republicans crossed the aisle to vote against Trump’s Syria policy. Wallace then said that he had “talked to a very well-connected Republican in Washington, someone whose name you would know well, who says that if the House votes to impeach and it gets to a trial in the Senate, there's now a 20 percent chance enough Republicans would vote with Democrats to impeach the president.”
When asked to respond, Mulvaney said, "That’s just absurd. The comment about the 20 percent is just a person who clearly doesn't know what they're talking about."
Mulvaney added that the president recognized that it was “not politically popular in this town to make the decision that he made to move the troops out of Syria. He ran on it. He told people he would do it if he won and he’s doing it now.”
When Wallace asked if there was concern that the president was losing support in Congress, Mulvaney responded, “The president is extraordinarily popular back home, more popular in the swing districts now that impeachment has started.”
Wallace did not say which Republican had given him the estimate, but Republican elected officials seem more likely to criticize the president in the wake of Trump’s Syria decision and the subsequent Turkish invasion of Kurdish territory. In addition to Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and others have spoken out against President Trump’s policy of retreat.
To remove Trump from office, the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate. If all 45 Democrats vote to convict in the Senate trial, it would take at least 22 Republican votes, more than 40 percent of the Republican caucus, to remove Mr. Trump. While that seems like long odds, if the president’s behavior continues to become more worrisome to his own party, the chances of removal could continue to increase.
If Republicans continue to desert the president, it also increases the chances that Mr. Trump will be pressured to resign and leave office under his own terms rather than submit to a Senate trial with its possible humiliating result. Two other presidents have been impeached, but, if convicted by the Senate, Donald Trump would be the first and only president to have been forcibly removed from office.
Recent Gallup polling shows that 52 percent of Americans support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office. In 1998, only 32 percent agreed that Bill Clinton should be impeached and removed. The share of Americans who though Richard Nixon should be impeached and removed was 38 percent in 1974 before he resigned.
In the same interview, Wallace also confronted Mulvaney about his claim and subsequent walk-back that the Trump Administration withheld aid from Ukraine as part of a three-part quid pro quo. Mulvaney first denied making the statement, saying, “That’s what people are saying that I said, but I didn’t say that.”
When confronted with the tape of his words, Mulvaney insisted, “I never said there was a quid pro quo, because there isn’t.”
Originally published on the Resurgent