Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s dramatic and baffling fall from grace continues as his reputation destroying quest to repudiate the Trump supporters who elected him drags on. In one sentence, the once Majority Leader simultaneously plunged a dagger into President Trump’s back and his hopes of re-election into the ground. “We had just reclaimed the Capitol from violent criminals who’d tried to stop Congress from doing our duty. The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 19, 2021
A Mounting Pressure Campaign, Reputation be Damned
The Minority leader seems to be working to set the stage for a proverbial “silent political assassination” of President Trump. With a simple majority requiring only three Republicans, (two in addition to himself,) he could call for the impeachment proceedings to conclude in a secret ballot. In which case the 20 Republican Senators needed to convict Trump could cast their instruments of betrayal without fear of retribution from their voters. In this context Mitch McConnell is de facto giving his Senators the safety of the shadows and his creepy-pseudo-paternal blessing to turn their backs not only on President Trump but the 75 million Americans who voted for him, and them.
A Preview of the GOP Purge to Come
McConnell’s remarks could also translate to an attack on his fellow Senator’s Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) when he spoke of “the President and other powerful people“. Thus setting the stage for troubling proceedings in the future of the Senate even after the second impeachment of President Trump is concluded.
I am calling for their immediate resignations.
If they do not resign, the Senate must expel them.
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) January 9, 2021
We may see the first expulsions from the US Senate since the Civil War. When between 1861-62 fourteen Confederate sympathetic Senators were removed. Cruz and Hawley would also be the first ever Republicans to be expelled. This tracks with ongoing efforts in the House of Representatives spearheaded by newly elected Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO). Bush is calling for the expulsion of “all 138 Congressmen & women who supported the constitutional objection to the 2021 electoral college votes.”
At a time of deep national division and in the midst of a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, Senators Cruz and Hawley chose to undermine our democracy and feed the big lie that the election was stolen. They should resign immediately.
— Senator Tina Smith (@SenTinaSmith) January 10, 2021
Indeed, Democrat Senators have already begun calling for Cruz & Hawley’s metaphorical heads. Forbes.com reports that seven Senators; Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.),Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.),Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio),Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.),Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.),Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) have called on Sens. Ted Cruz and Hawley to “resign – or be expelled – for leading the charge to object to Biden electors even after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to overturn the election.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse presented the most seemingly “reasonable” take, even while widening his sights to include Senator Ron Johnson when he “called for the Senate Ethics committee to “consider the expulsion, or censure and punishment” of Hawley, Cruz and “perhaps others,” specifically citing Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.).”
Mitch McConnell has made it clear: supporting President Trump will have dire consequences for US Senators. With both stated threats for some and implicit threats for others from the Democrats and no support from their own party leadership, the prospects for Republican Senators weathering this storm to support Trump and their constituents are grim. Reputation be damned indeed.