Nearly all congressional Democrats and even some Republicans have condemned President Trump’s incitement to revolt at the Capitol. Almost all Congress Democrats and even some Republicans seem to want Trump out of office as soon as possible. The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to appear to accuse Trump for the second time this week, with at least five Republicans likely to vote for it. Allied Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, first reported by the New York Times and then confirmed by ABC News, says McConnell believes Trump committed insurmountable offenses and supports Democrats moving forward on charges.
Where does everything that leaves us leave? It’s complicated. It still seems quite likely that Trump will remain in office until January 20, when Parliament will accuse Trump of a predominantly party line, but the Senate will not take charges until January 20, when President-elect Joe Biden takes office. We still have to wait to see how it all unfolds to know for sure. Either way, we know that a major step in this process took place Tuesday night: Parliament passed a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the remaining members of Trump̵
This vote was historic – Parliament has voted to indict three presidents (including Trump), but never before formally proposed that the president be removed from his cabinet. At the same time, the vote has no real impact. Pence said in a letter to Pelosi released before the vote that he and the cabinet will not try to force Trump out of office via the 25th Amendment. So Tuesday’s vote was really just a prelude to a separate vote on Trump’s accusation, which could come as soon as Wednesday. House Democrats have promised that for the second time, they will go on to accuse Trump if the cabinet does not remove him.
Tuesday night’s vote on the 25th Amendment, though symbolic, helps us understand some of the dynamics within the two parties – especially if you consider it along with last week’s votes on whether we should certify the outcome of the November election. Here are four things we have learned …
Most House Republicans are still strongly in line with Trump.
Only 83 of the 204 Republicans who participated in the vote were against efforts last week to effectively disqualify the president’s votes in Arizona. Only 64 of the 202 House Republicans who participated in the vote were opposed to efforts to disqualify the Pennsylvania election results. In other words, a clear majority of House Republicans voted to prevent the president’s results from Arizona and Pennsylvania, joining Trump’s attempts to disqualify the votes in swing states, where he narrowly lost. And there were votes cast after Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol.
Tuesday night, the number of Republican houses willing to call for Trump to be pushed out of office was even lower – just one, rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, supported the decision to remove Trump. There may be some Republicans voting in favor of the indictment, but not the 25th Amendment (more on that below). But it seems likely that the overwhelming majority of Republicans will oppose any effort to remove Trump from office, regardless of method.
The upcoming referendum will be the fourth vote in a week that is actually a proxy for how loyal a House Republican is to Trump and strongly pro-Trump voters. And it seems that most House Republicans will take Trump’s side all four times despite an attack on the Capitol, which was partly inspired by Trump’s words, resulted in the deaths of five people and could easily have resulted in members of Congress and even Pence. killed.
It is worth noting that the strong support for Trump among Republicans in Parliament may not be shared in the Senate. Only eight of the 51 Republicans in the Senate supported efforts to challenge the results in either Arizona, Pennsylvania, or both states. Unlike McConnell, allies with rep. Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in Parliament, did not suggest that McCarthy is open to Trump’s accusation. That said, it is not clear that many Senate Republicans support invoking the 25th Amendment or trying to prosecute and remove Trump. (More on that in a moment).
There was a big difference between confirming Biden’s victory and demanding that Trump be removed.
The 63 House Republicans who confirmed the election results in both Arizona and Pennsylvania were from across the ideological and geographic spectrum – some were relatively moderate members from more liberally skewed areas, such as the Rep. John Katko from New York, but some were also conservatives from more right-wing areas, especially the No. 3 Republican in the party leadership, Liz Cheney from Wyoming.
But voting to remove Trump seems to be a bridge too far, even for these Republicans. Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Katko and Cheney have indicated they would support an indictment, although they did not also support the 25th Amendment process, as Kinzinger did. But overall, there is little to suggest that most of these 63 members will vote in favor.
Accusations in the House do not really need Republican votes, as Democrats are in the majority and they are likely to be universally behind the accusation. But this House can also be an indication of things in the Senate …
It’s not exactly clear what Senate Republicans will do.
Although McConnell hovered the idea that he is frustrated with Trump, he has also suggested that the Senate can not really start a lawsuit against Jan. 19, according to a memo he sent to Republican senators obtained by the Washington Post. If the Senate really wanted to push Trump out right away, I think they would figure out a way to do it. What’s more likely is that McConnell publicly wants to get out of the announcement that he’s personally angry at Trump, but does not necessarily demand that Republican senators go on the record with a vote. Remember, McConnell just won a six-year term in 2020 and is 78 years old. He is probably not so worried about being cast as inadequate pro-Trump and losing a Republican proclamation in 2026 if he decided to run for another term at the age of 84. But younger Republican senators, those with the president’s ambitions and / or those coming up for re-election next year might avoid a vote, either by defending Trump or removing him from office.
So it is not clear McConnell would move towards a vote before January 20th. There is not yet a clamor of GOP senators calling on the Senate to meet immediately after Parliament accuses Trump, nor is it clear that there is anywhere close to the 18 GOP senators who would be needed for to remove him from office. So unless something dramatically changes in terms of the GOP senator’s position, Trump is likely to remain on the subject on January 20th.
By the end of this month, with a 50-50 Senate and Vice President Kamala Harris as the uninterrupted vote, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer will be the majority leader. There is little precedent for this, but some legal experts say the Senate could by a two-thirds vote convict Trump of the prosecution even if he was not in office. Then the Senate could, by a simple majority, vote to disqualify Trump from occupying any office again. But I must emphasize: we have no idea if any of that will happen. With Trump out of office, would Democrats, especially Biden, be eager to focus on the Democrats’ political agenda as opposed to trying to punish Trump? Would Republicans in the Senate join forces in trying to convict Trump and disqualify him from running again? Would a disqualification of Trump from having other offices withstand legal challenges?
Democrats reprimand Trump like no other president has been reprimanded.
All 222 Congress Democrats who participated in the vote Tuesday supported the invocation of the 25th Amendment. Accusation is also likely to be a unanimous vote among Democrats. This is not surprising – in 2019, all 232 House Democrats except Trump supported Trump’s accusation of his plan to force the Ukrainian government to investigate Bidens. There has been some turnover in terms of members, but the overwhelming majority of House Democrats have already tried to force Trump out of office and probably feel comfortable casting such votes again, especially in light of last week’s terrible incident at the Capitol.
By combining today’s 25th Amendment with the 2019 indictment, Democrats have ensured that Trump will be reprimanded by the House of Representatives in a way that no previous president has: Both accused and called for removal from office by the president’s cabinet. No president has been indicted in two separate cases (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were indicted for multiple articles, but in the same row of house votes). House Democrats are almost certain to make Trump the first one this week.