At Politico, Juleana Glover -- an establishment Republican who's worked for Jeb and George W. Bush, among others -- proposes the latest hack meant to remove President Trump from office without requiring any courage or political risk on the part of Senate Republicans:
By most everyone’s judgment, the Senate will not vote to remove President Donald Trump from office if the House impeaches him. But what if senators could vote on impeachment by secret ballot? If they didn’t have to face backlash from constituents or the media or the president himself, who knows how many Republican senators would vote to remove?
(Recall that former Republican senator Jeff Flake has said that 30 or even 35 Republicans in the Senate might vote to impeach if they could cast their ballots secretly. Republican strategist Mike Murphy's estimate is 30.)
A secret impeachment ballot might sound crazy, but it’s actually quite possible. In fact, it would take only three senators to allow for that possibility.
... [Mitch] McConnell and his fellow Republicans are ... likely to dictate the rules [for a Senate impeachment trial] with little input from Democrats.
But, according to current Senate procedure, McConnell will still need a simple majority—51 of the 53 Senate Republicans—to support any resolution outlining rules governing the trial. That means that if only three Republican senators were to break from the caucus, they could block any rule they didn’t like. (Vice President Mike Pence can’t break ties in impeachment matters.) Those three senators, in turn, could demand a secret ballot and condition their approval of the rest of the rules on getting one.
The usual argument follows: that it's possible to get three votes for a secret ballot from the pool of retiring Republican senators and/or Trump skeptics (Romney, Murkowski). Then GOP senators could blithely vote to convict, secure in the knowledge that...
... that what? That the right-wing media won't unmask the heretics? That the party's Trump-mad voters won't blame all Senate Republicans for allow the God Emperor to be deposed?
There's no doubt in my mind that the right-wing media would proclaim this to be the collective responsibility of deep state GOP saboteurs and weak-willed Republicans who stayed technically loyal to Dear Leader but didn't try hard enough to stop the subterfuge. This would become the stab in the back against which all other stabs in the back are measured.
I know it makes the political establishment crazy, but there isn't a cost-free solution to this problem. If there really are enough Republicans to convict, they have to accept consequences for voting against the wishes of the Trump superfans in their states. For senators in deep red states, that means defying a majority of their own voters.
If they want Trump out, they have to commit career suicide. It's that simple. And that's why it will never happen.
Published with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog