A Republican political consultant and advisor to the campaigns of John McCain and Jeb Bush says it would only take three senators to turn on President Donald Trump to increase the chances of him being removed from office when the impeachment proceedings reach the upper chamber.
Writing in Politico magazine, Juleanna Glover, who has worked for a number of prominent Republicans — George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Rudy Giuliani among them — says just the three senators would have to step up and demand that the vote on whether to remove Trump be held in secret instead of openly as has been done in the past.
“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?” Glover writes.
In an open ballot following the Senate impeachment trial, Trump seems certain to prevail because he would need 20 Republican senators to vote to remove him from office. A secret ballot might be another story, however. Glover points to speculation that between 30 and 35 Republican senators would turn on Trump if they could do so secretly.
In Glover’s three-senator scenario, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his Republican colleagues will need to lay out the ground rules for the impeachment trial. He needs a simple majority—51 of the 53 Senate Republicans—to support any resolution outlining those rules. Just three senators would have to break from the caucus and demand that the verdict vote be secret.
Five sitting Republicans have already announced their retirement and two more, Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), have been openly critical or wavering in their support of the president. And while open ballots have been the norm to date in impeachment proceedings, the Electoral College has held secret ballots in the past to elect presidents and there is nothing in rules that say they can’t be secret.
Trump supporters are skeptical.
Secret ballots in this instance would be as shameless and manipulative as what is currently happening in the House. Secret meetings, controlled narratives – Whatever happened to the concept that our legislators represent “The People”? We do have an election coming up.— KR (@trufaxrbtr) November 12, 2019
Glover admits it unlikely that Trump would support a secret ballot, but says he would benefit from the opportunity to resign from office and seek pardons for any criminal cases that may dog him when he leaves office.
“The sooner any three Republican senators make clear that they will support nothing short of a secret ballot, the sooner Trump realizes his best course could be to cut a deal, trading his office for a get-out-of-jail-free card—a clean slate from prosecutors—just as Vice President Spiro Agnew did,” she writes. “And if Trump were to leave office before the end of the year, there might even be enough time for Republicans to have a vibrant primary fight, resulting in a principled Republican as the nominee.”