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McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE had a pretty good run in Washington — rampaging through the Republican Party, driving the media to distraction, enraging the Democrats and treating his own co-partisans in the Senate like a bunch of valets. But that’s all about to end. And I predict it will end with Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRon Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Klain on Harris breaking tie: 'Every time she votes, we win' How to pass legislation in the Senate without eliminating the filibuster MORE (R-Ky.) — as the new minority leader — incinerating Trump’s political future for good.

McConnell needs just 18 votes to finish off Trump. Conviction on impeachment can bring with it a ban on holding federal office — which includes the presidency. A two-thirds majority or 67 votes is necessary for conviction. For McConnell that means 18 votes if West Virginia Democrat Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Progressives won't oppose bill over limits on stimulus checks Senate votes to take up COVID-19 relief bill MORE opposes or 17 if Manchin joins in. (Preferably, McConnell would want to get to 68 votes so that no Republican could be accused of being the one vote that convicted Trump).

Why should McConnell and the Republican senators convict?

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For Republicans, allowing Trump to continue to be eligible to run for president is a recipe for disaster. Trump simply cannot win in a general election. The combination of events at the Capitol and his ejection from the major social media platforms is fatal.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t get the GOP nomination in 2024.

The way the Republican primary system is structured helps a candidate like Trump who has a dedicated base — even if it is the minority of the party. GOP primaries and caucuses award a disproportionate share of delegates to the top vote-getter and in some states the winner takes all. In 2020, Trump failed to get even one-third of the vote in South Carolina, but that was enough to lead the field and collect all 50 delegates.

In fact, Trump failed to get a majority of the Republican vote in any state primary or caucus until his home state of New York voted in April 19 (Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCrenshaw pours cold water on 2024 White House bid: 'Something will emerge' Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington on high alert as QAnon theory marks March 4 MORE had four majority results). Trump won 10 states with less than 40 percent of the vote and two with less than 35 percent. In total, Trump failed to crack 40 percent in 22 states and caucuses and only won majorities in 16 states, with nine of those majorities after everyone else dropped out. If no-hopers like Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Carly Fiorina had dropped out early, either Ted Cruz or Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China DeSantis's rising GOP profile fuels 2024 talk MORE were in a strong position to beat Trump.

If Trump holds on to just 35 percent of the Republican electorate and a crowded field chops up the anti-Trump vote, Trump might get the nomination — at the very least he draws out the nominating process and hurts the eventual nominee’s chances. A recent Morning Consult poll has Trump with support of 40 percent of Republicans for 2024; it’s worth keeping in mind a couple of points: 1) this is mostly a name recognition number and 2) given that Trump got 94 percent of the Republican vote, a 54-point collapse is pretty terrible — but that 40 percent looks like his hardcore base.

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Importantly, Republicans need to remember that were the roles reversed, Trump would vote to convict without hesitation. If Trump had the chance to kill off an opponent, he would not pause for a second to consider the principle or the morality of the matter. He would act in his own interest, 100 percent of the time.

Trump is always at war, and a large segment of the GOP does not appreciate this. You don’t play by the Marquess of Queensberry’s rules in war. Being a principled gentleman when faced with a feral brute ready to shank you in the back doesn’t make you brave or heroic — it makes you a fool.

Can McConnell get the votes?

Surprisingly, getting the votes might not be that difficult. Because Trump simply rages uncontrollably — without thought or foresight — at the slightest criticism or disagreement, he has managed to alienate plenty of Republican senators, most of whom have been winning elections in their home states long before Trump barged onto the scene — and often with much greater margins. Add to that the staggered terms in the Senate, as opposed to the House, and that several senators may be in their last term with nothing to lose, and you have a toxic stew of animus about to be served up to Trump.

Remove all the Republicans who are up for reelection in 2022 and all those who voted to challenge the Electoral College votes of either Arizona or Pennsylvania and you have 24 potential conviction votes.

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Assuming Manchin votes no, we start at 49 votes to convict.

Start with the senators who are retiring or likely in their last term: McConnell, Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCBC 'unequivocally' endorses Shalanda Young for White House budget chief Black Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (R-Ala.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks National Sheriffs' Association backs Biden pick for key DOJ role Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers MORE (R-Iowa) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.), which brings the conviction total to 53 votes. This group has nothing to lose and has served in the Senate for several terms. Toomey has already signaled his dismay with Trump.

Then there’s the enemies list: John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneRon Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Rick Scott caught in middle of opposing GOP factions Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill MORE (R-S.D.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senate votes to take up COVID-19 relief bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Increased security on Capitol Hill amid QAnon's March 4 date MORE (R-Alaska), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMurkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy Republicans, please save your party MORE (R-Maine), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRon Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits Republicans, please save your party MORE (R-Utah) and Ben SasseBen SasseSenators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks Republicans, please save your party MORE (R-Neb.), which raises the conviction vote to 58. Trump has threatened these senators, often repeatedly. They also have little to lose and have already staked out ground against Trump. Thune and Murkowski are up in 2022, but probably don’t care at this point.

Consider the friends of Thune: John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Biden reignites immigration fight in Congress McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-N.D.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerRon Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Senate votes to take up COVID-19 relief bill OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy MORE (R-N.D.), Mike RoundsMike RoundsIndigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland Powell pushes back on GOP inflation fears Overnight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March MORE (R-S.D.) and John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoMurkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination Interior Department reverses Trump policy that it says improperly restricted science Biden returns to Obama-era greenhouse gas calculation MORE (R-Wyo.) — senators from the Dakotas and Wyoming — all have common interests and have won with big margins in small states where people have personal relationships with them. Trump is not much of a threat. They would bring the conviction vote to 62.

Then there’s “Friends of Pence”: primarily James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Top Republican: 'Outrageous' to extend National Guard deployment at Capitol Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal MORE (R-Okla.), raising the vote to 63. This list could be — and probably is — much larger. The way Trump dumped Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard Pence'QAnon shaman' is 'wounded' Trump hasn't helped him Biden can build on Pope Francis's visit to Iraq The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill MORE and left him to run from the mob infuriated Pence’s allies. Inhofe went public with his disgust.

That total — 63 — leaves McConnell a few votes short, but also with a lot of opportunities.

Senators not in their first term who are not up for reelection until 2026 include Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary MORE (R-Alaska), John CornynJohn CornynOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal MORE (R-Texas), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonRepublicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks MORE (R-Ark.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstRepublicans demand arms embargo on Iran after militia strikes in Iraq Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill MORE (R-Iowa), Bill CassidyBill CassidyTrump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC Republicans, please save your party Senate panel splits along party lines on Becerra MORE (R-La.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSusan Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Indigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland MORE (R-Mont.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general GOP senators demand probe into Cuomo's handling of nursing home deaths CNN anchor confronts GOP chairman over senator's vote to convict Trump MORE (R-N.C.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRon Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Here's who Biden is now considering for budget chief House Democratic leaders back Shalanda Young for OMB after Tanden withdrawal MORE (R-S.C.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoBiden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden's unity effort falters MORE (R-W.Va.). Two others aren’t up until 2024. That’s a pretty deep pool from which to fish four more votes. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers House sets vote for George Floyd police reform bill MORE (R-Ky.) might vote to convict out of principle — even though he faces voters in 2022.

Trump has only himself to blame. Yet again he is in a mess of his own making.

Trump has voluntarily taken a seat in the electric chair. The question is whether Senate Republicans have the nerve to throw the switch.

Keith Naughton, Ph.D. is co-founder of Silent Majority Strategies, a public and regulatory affairs consulting firm. Dr. Naughton is a former Pennsylvania political campaign consultant. Follow him on Twitter @KNaughton711.