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

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 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 McConnellThe bizarre back story of the filibuster The Bible's wisdom about addressing our political tribalism Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' 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) ManchinProgressives fume over Senate setbacks Politics, not racism or sexism, explain opposition to Biden Cabinet nominees House Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike 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 CruzNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech Sunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Texas attorney general hits links with Trump before CPAC appearance 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 RubioWatch live: Day 2 at CPAC DeSantis derides 'failed Republican establishment' at CPAC The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided House on full display 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 ShelbyBlack 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 Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy MORE (R-Ala.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation MORE (R-Iowa) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyPhilly 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 Toomey on Trump vote: 'His betrayal of the Constitution' required conviction 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 ThuneAfter vote against coronavirus relief package, Golden calls for more bipartisanship in Congress Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents Cruz hires Trump campaign press aide as communications director MORE (R-S.D.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGraham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Republicans see Becerra as next target in confirmation wars MORE (R-Alaska), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins urges Biden to revisit order on US-Canada border limits Media circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden Why the 'Never-Trumpers' flopped MORE (R-Maine), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Memo: CPAC fires starting gun on 2024 Trump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars Democrats scramble to rescue minimum wage hike MORE (R-Utah) and Ben SasseBen SasseTrump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars Media circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden Republicans see Becerra as next target in confirmation wars 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 HoevenBiden reignites immigration fight in Congress McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Senate GOP opposition grows to objecting to Electoral College results MORE (R-N.D.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerOn The Money: Manhattan DA obtains Trump tax returns | Biden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda | Biden faces first setback as Tanden teeters OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary | GOP bill would codify Trump rule on financing for fossil fuels, guns | Kennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a 'whack job' GOP bill would codify Trump rule on financing for fossil fuels, guns 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 BarrassoBiden returns to Obama-era greenhouse gas calculation Indigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland Senate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary 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 InhofeBiden seeks to walk fine line with Syria strike Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video 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 PenceDemocrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' The Memo: CPAC fires starting gun on 2024 Merrick Garland is right to prioritize domestic terrorism, but he'll need a bigger boat 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 CornynPolitics, not racism or sexism, explain opposition to Biden Cabinet nominees Biden pledges support for Texas amid recovery from winter storm Partisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission MORE (R-Texas), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues The Memo: CPAC fires starting gun on 2024 Democrats scramble to rescue minimum wage hike MORE (R-Ark.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstBill to shorten early voting period, end Election Day early in Iowa heads to governor's desk We know how Republicans will vote — but what do they believe? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending MORE (R-Iowa), Bill CassidyBill CassidySunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Republicans see Becerra as next target in confirmation wars Overnight Health Care: Johnson & Johnson vaccine safe, effective in FDA analysis | 3-4 million doses coming next week | White House to send out 25 million masks MORE (R-La.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesIndigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland Kennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a 'whack job' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help 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 GrahamOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents John Boehner tells Cruz to 'go f--- yourself' in unscripted audiobook asides: report MORE (R-S.C.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden's unity effort falters Capito asks White House to allow toxic chemicals rule to proceed 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 PaulOvernight Health Care: 50 million coronavirus vaccines given | Pfizer news | Biden health nominees Rand Paul criticized for questioning of transgender health nominee Haley isolated after Trump fallout 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.