SPONSORED:

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

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum 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 McConnellCan Manchin answer his predecessor's call on voting rights? Biden at Sen. John Warner's funeral: He 'gave me confidence' Democrats' narrow chance to retain control after 2022 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 ManchinJoe ManchinSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Senators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Briahna Joy Gray: Biden is keeping the filibuster to have 'a Joe Manchin presidency' 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?

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CruzNew Jersey governor tweaks Cruz on Cancun over moving truck quip Hirono tells Ted Cruz to stop 'mansplaining' Senate Republicans: Newly proposed ATF rules could pave way for national gun registry 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 RubioOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal Rising violent crime poses new challenge for White House 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 ShelbyOn The Money: Sanders: Democrats considering trillion spending package | Weekly jobless claims rise for first time since April Shelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior MORE (R-Ala.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyBiden's program for migrant children doesn't go far enough The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll MORE (R-Iowa) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party 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 ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP torpedoes election bill; infrastructure talks hit snag White House digs in as infrastructure talks stall On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling MORE (R-S.D.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP torpedoes election bill; infrastructure talks hit snag White House digs in as infrastructure talks stall Schumer vows next steps after 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE (R-Alaska), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP torpedoes election bill; infrastructure talks hit snag White House digs in as infrastructure talks stall MORE (R-Maine), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed MORE (R-Utah) and Ben SasseBen SasseGOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Pence: Trump and I may never 'see eye to eye' on events of Jan. 6 White House: Biden will not appoint presidential Jan. 6 commission 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 HoevenLobbying world Hillicon Valley: Facebook to resume some political donations | Microsoft says Russian hackers utilized email system used by USAID to target other groups | Senate confirms Biden's top scientist Khanna, Mace introduce bill to strengthen federal cyber workforce following major hacks MORE (R-N.D.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office GOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Trump dismisses climate change, calls on Biden to fire joint chiefs MORE (R-N.D.), Mike RoundsMike RoundsOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal Overnight Defense: Senate panel delays Iraq war powers repeal | Study IDs Fort Hood as least-safe base for female soldiers | Pentagon loosens some COVID-19 restrictions MORE (R-S.D.) and John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoObama land management chief says Biden nominee should withdraw over tree-spiking incident Juan Williams: Trump's GOP descends into farce Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal 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 InhofePentagon chief backs change to military sexual assault prosecution Overnight Defense: Biden participates in NATO summit | White House backs 2002 AUMF repeal | Top general says no plans for airstrikes to help Afghan forces after withdrawal Top Republican proposes leaving 1,000 US troops in Afghanistan into next year 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 PenceOn The Money: Biden to fire FHFA director after Supreme Court removes restriction | Yellen pleads with Congress to raise debt ceiling Biden to fire FHFA director after Supreme Court removes restriction If you care about the US, root for China to score a win in space 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 SullivanSenate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior Concerns grow over China's Taiwan plans China conducts amphibious landing drill near Taiwan after senators' visit MORE (R-Alaska), John CornynJohn CornynSenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Cornyn calls on Biden and Harris to visit southern border: 'Y'all come visit' Progressive groups launch .5M ad buy to pressure Sinema on filibuster MORE (R-Texas), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonJoint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on race theory, 'white rage' Senate Republicans: Newly proposed ATF rules could pave way for national gun registry Jon Stewart shows late-night conformity cabal how political comedy is done MORE (R-Ark.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Defense: Pentagon details military construction projects getting .2B restored from wall funds | Biden chooses former commander to lead Navy | Bill seeks to boost visa program for Afghans who helped US Meghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration Senate bill would add visas, remove hurdles to program for Afghans who helped US MORE (R-Iowa), Bill CassidyBill CassidyWhite House digs in as infrastructure talks stall Portman: Republicans are 'absolutely' committed to bipartisan infrastructure bill Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting MORE (R-La.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Company officially nixes Keystone XL pipeline OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm MORE (R-Mont.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisBill ending federal unemployment supplement passes North Carolina legislature Senate Republicans: Newly proposed ATF rules could pave way for national gun registry Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting MORE (R-N.C.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump's biggest political obstacle is Trump The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure MORE (R-S.C.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 COVID-19 long-haulers press Congress for paid family leave 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 PaulPoll: 58 percent say Fauci should not resign Fauci says he puts 'very little weight in the craziness of condemning me' Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior 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.