Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said on Monday that GOP senators in purple states could lose their jobs if they don’t vote to convict Donald Trump after the expected impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.
Steele said that if the evidence is overwhelming – which it already is – then Republican senators would face backlash in voting to keep Trump in office.
“If you are in a state that is marginal for you, you probably do (vote to convict Trump), because you’re going to need the Democrats to win,” he said.
In other words, unless you’re a senator in the deepest of red states, then it’s probably not a good idea to vote against convicting Trump in an impeachment trial.
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) October 22, 2019
MATTHEWS: You’re a Republican senator right now. Would you like to vote on the impeachment trial or do you just hope it doesn’t come to you. I think it’s going to come to them, but do you want that vote – if you’re Murkowski, Collins, you’re Cory Gardner? Do you want a vote?
STEELE: The political answer depends on what state I’m in. The truth of the matter is, if you are in a state that is marginal for you, you probably do because you’re going to need the Democrats to win. If you’re in a state where you need Democrats to win, yeah, you’re going to probably want to flesh this out more.
MATTHEWS: You would actually vote for conviction?
STEELE: You’d probably vote for – yeah, well again, let’s assume the evidence is there and the evidence makes the case. I mean, this voting for conviction for the sake of voting for —
MATTHEWS: So you can get reelected as a Republican if you vote for … conviction?
STEELE: I think you can. I think that’s the calculation for some.
Enough Republican senators could vote to convict Trump
The conventional wisdom surrounding impeachment was that the initial vote in the House of Representatives would pass, but the Senate vote to convict and remove Trump would easily fail.
But as the impeachment inquiry continues, Donald Trump’s blind GOP support in the Senate doesn’t look as strong as it did at the outset. Private and public cracks have emerged.
As The Washington Post noted on Monday, “[A]fter a month of actions by the White House that seemed designed to test the limits of their willingness to go along, the cracks in Republicans’ tenuous defense are starting to show.”
That’s certainly clear in Mitt Romney’s liberated behavior in recent weeks, but even South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is now essentially saying that he’s open to voting to convict Trump if the investigation uncovers damning evidence.
Fox News host Chris Wallace even reported over the weekend, citing a “well-connected” Republican source, that there’s a 20 percent chance that the GOP will vote to convict the president.
In other words, while Republicans in the Senate are largely still behind Trump, it’s no longer a foregone conclusion that an impeachment trial will lead to his acquittal.