The House’s public impeachment hearings, as expected, have dominated Capitol Hill this week. Even the Senate is largely consumed by the inquiry, as the congressional press corps doggedly queries senators – particularly Republicans – about their thoughts on impeachment. And while Senate Republicans either dodged reporters’ questions or responded with boilerplate GOP talking points, they’re monitoring the proceedings with increasing anxiety. That’s because the prospects are increasing by the day that the House will vote to impeach President Trump, sending the whole show to the Senate. This is not a scenario Senate Republicans relish, as they don’t want to be stuck either having to defend a president many aren’t particularly enamored with or – worse – publicly rebuking him and risking Trump’s wrath (and the resulting potential voter backlash).
Still, as things now stand, a Senate trial would result in Trump’s acquittal. Very few, if any, of the chamber’s 53 Republicans would side with Democrats and vote to convict. And remember, conviction requires support of two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 senators. That’s a threshold that even many mundane measures don’t achieve in today’s hyper-partisan Congress.
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