On January 13, Donald Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. Ten Republican members of Congress, including the third-most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, broke rank and voted with Democrats to charge the president with “inciting violence against him. government of the United States ”.
It came exactly one week after Trump supporters staged a violent insurgency to take control of the U.S. Capitol and block certification of victory for Biden’s Electoral College, an effort that was politically backed by Republican members of the Congress and Senators who voted against Electoral College certification. to win.
The FBI is also currently investigating the role some Republican members of Congress may have played in aiding and abetting the January 6 insurgency, which resulted in five deaths and multiple injuries.
The final impeachment vote tally was 232 to 197. Every Democrat in the chamber voted for impeachment, along with 10 Republicans. 197 Republicans voted against the measure, a testament to the former president’s continued popularity within the Republican Party.
According to a Monmouth University poll released Jan. 25, 56 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives, while 42 percent disapprove of it. Yet support for Trump’s impeachment among Republican voters remains low at 13%.
This highlights a slight shift among Republicans; this percentage is higher than it was during Trump’s first impeachment trial in January 2020, when only 8% of Republicans approved it. Nonetheless, Republican voter support for impeachment is still incredibly low.
On January 25, nine members of the House appointed to prepare the impeachment case submitted the article to the Senate. This team, along with the Trump defense team, will have about two weeks to prepare their cases for the impeachment trial set to begin in the Senate on February 9.
During this trial, Senators act as jurors in a court of law, and Acting Senate Speaker, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, will preside over the trial. For the former president to be convicted, a supermajority of 67 votes is needed, meaning 17 Republicans would have to join Democrats in supporting the conviction of former President Trump. How likely is this and what are the implications for the Republican field of presidential candidates in 2024?
Senate Republicans are not going to condemn Trump
There are unlikely to be enough votes to condemn Trump. President Biden himself said in an interview on January 25 that Democrats did not have the votes in the Senate to condemn Trump. Even though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was unsure how he would vote, signaling the first significant split between Trump and the Senate’s most powerful Republican, he and 45 Republican senators voted on the 26th. January in favor of a motion proposed by Kentucky. Senator Rand Paul to dismiss the impeachment trial. The strategy behind this motion was to question the constitutionality of a former president’s conviction, another first in American history. Only five Republicans opposed the measure. This is the most egregious indication that nowhere will nearly 17 Republicans vote with Democrats to condemn the former president.
The reaction of the Republican Party to the 10 members who voted in favor of impeachment on January 13 is also revealing. The far-right Freedom Caucus has called on Liz Cheney to step down as chair of the House GOP conference. By voting in favor of impeachment, which she describes as a “vote of conscience,” Cheney is positioning himself against the majority of Republicans. This includes the two most powerful Republicans in the House of Representatives, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise – both opposed to impeachment. It can also be politically difficult for her as a representative of the very conservative state of Wyoming, where Trump won 70% of the vote last November. Cheney is already facing a Republican challenger in the upcoming 2022 midterm election in response to his vote.
At Trump’s House impeachment hearing in January 2020 – his first time – not a single Republican broke ranks to vote with the Democrats. The 10 Republicans who broke with their party this time around surely represent a small but growing contingent of Republican voters who are fed up with Trump’s control over the Republican Party. But opposing Trump is still politically toxic in the Republican Party today. Lindsey Graham, a longtime Trump ally and senior Republican senator from South Carolina, believes Trump is key to the Republican Party’s future success. In an interview with Fox News, he said, “I hope people in our party understand the party itself. If you want to wipe Donald Trump out of the party, you’re going to be wiped out.
Additionally, Trump has threatened political retaliation against GOP members of Congress who support impeachment. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump and his closest associates were in discussions about creating a new “Patriot Party” to challenge Republican candidates. However, Trump recently disowned those reports and reassured Republicans in the Senate. Republican Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota told Politico that “the President wanted me to know and a handful of others that the President is a Republican, he doesn’t throw a third party and whatever he would do politically in the future would be as a Republican.
Will Trump run again in 2024?
If 17 Republicans decided to join the Democrats and vote to condemn Trump, what would happen next? After conviction, the Senate could then move on to another crucial vote to bar Trump from running for federal election. For that second vote, they would only need 51 votes instead of the 67 needed for conviction, a much more manageable feat for Democrats. This would bar Trump from running for president in 2024, but it wouldn’t necessarily prevent him from remaining a major political force in the Republican Party. He has already created the “Office of the Former President,” which aims to “advance the interests of the United States and … pursue the Trump administration’s agenda through advocacy, organization and public activism” , hinting that no matter what, he will play an influential political role in the future, whether that is creating a new media company, supporting political candidates, or possibly running for president in 2024’s he is not condemned and barred from running for federal election by the US Senate.
Trump has already told his allies he will run again in 2024, but has also hinted that he may ultimately decide to forgo that promise. The desire to gain attention and remain politically relevant during the Biden administration will likely push him to leave people guessing until after midterm 2022.
However, even if Trump remains popular and ends up running, the Republican Party is in crisis. They just lost the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Georgia Senate race results also reveal that traditionally Republican southern states increasingly vote Democrats, due to a combination of demographic changes and grassroots voting rights mobilization within the Party. democrat. Additionally, a majority of Americans believe Trump is responsible for the Jan.6 Capitol uprising and removal of his support, and his approval rating was below 40% by the end of his term.
All of this leaves the Republican presidential field wide open for 2024. Even though Trump may run, he may choose not to. Many of Trump’s allies are likely planning a run in 2024, including members of his former administration like former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress, like Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Hawley – who both led the effort against electoral college certification on Jan.6 – have long positioned themselves as Trump’s successor. Trump’s own children could throw their hats in the ring as well, but it’s more likely that they would focus their efforts elsewhere. For example, Ivanka Trump can run for a seat in the Florida Senate, and Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, can run for a seat in the North Carolina Senate.
What is certain is that any potential Republican presidential candidate will proceed with caution to see what Trump does in the next two years. The presidential campaign doesn’t normally start until after midterm, so many of these candidates will start making moves around 2022, depending on what Trump does. At this point, no one knows. The only certainty at the start of 2021 is that Trump’s influence over the Republican Party remains as entrenched as ever.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.