Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump

Here’s the bottom line: What will it take to get to 20?

That’s the number of Republican senators who would need to join with 47 Democrats to reach the 67 votes to convict and remove President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE.

But first, what will it take to get to four?


That’s the number of Republican senators who would need to join with the Democrats to get witnesses and documents introduced at Trump’s impeachment trial.

Four Republican votes is a low bar to avoid a sham trial. But Trump has defined membership in the GOP as a matter of loyalty to him above all.

At the moment, that means a Republican has to be blind to all evidence that Trump broke the law.

The Government Accountability Office confirmed that Trump did break the law when he used U.S. foreign aid to try to pressure Ukraine’s new president into announcing an investigation into a potential Trump political rival, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit On The Money: Five takeaways on a surprisingly poor jobs report | GOP targets jobless aid after lackluster April gain MORE.

But Trump continues to say his call with the Ukrainian president was “perfect,” and claims that impeachment is a “hoax.”

So what will it take for Senate Republicans to have the scales fall from their eyes? What will it take for them to consider that the president deserves impeachment and removal?

Let’s begin with the voters.

Last week a majority of voters, 51 percent, said they approve of the House impeaching Trump, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. As of Saturday, the RealClearPolitics average of polls had 46.9 percent support for the Senate removing Trump from office.

Four Republican senators already seem concerned that they will be seen as allowing a sham trial for Trump: Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe American Rescue Plan was a step toward universal basic income Cheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Florida's restrictive voting bill signed into law MORE (Utah), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Trump muddles Republican messaging on Afghanistan Trump drama divides GOP, muddling message MORE (Alaska), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Manchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' MORE (Maine) and Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderThe Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality MORE (Tenn.).

A Morning Consult/Politico poll taken this month found that 57 percent of registered voters — 71 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of independents and 40 percent of Republicans — say the GOP-controlled Senate should allow witnesses to testify at the impeachment trial.

Murkowski told an Alaska TV station last month she was “disturbed” by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week GOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE’s (R-Ky.) pledge to coordinate the Senate impeachment trial with the president’s lawyers.

“For me to prejudge and say ‘There's nothing there,’ or on the other hand, ‘He should be impeached yesterday,’ that's wrong, in my view, that's wrong,” she added.

Sixty-six percent of registered voters want to see former National Security Advisor John BoltonJohn BoltonRepublicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process Trump pushes back on Bolton poll Hillicon Valley: Facebook Oversight board to rule on Trump ban in 'coming weeks' | Russia blocks Biden Cabinet officials in retaliation for sanctions MORE testify, according to a January poll by Quinnipiac University.

So, let’s count the four senators who are open to witnesses as perhaps also being open to Trump’s removal, if the testimony is damaging.

Then there are Republicans trying to win reelection in states where Trump is not popular.

Maine’s Collins fits into that category as does Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.).

In addition to those five Republicans, there are three GOP senators running in swing states where they have to worry about being labeled as Trump acolytes if an anti-Trump backlash stirs up a big turnout of Democrats in November.

Those three are Sens. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstConservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney A bipartisan effort to prevent the scourge of sexual assault in the armed forces Ernst defends Cheney, calls for GOP unity MORE (Iowa), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyEx-McSally aide pleads guilty to stealing over 0K in campaign funds Arizona state senator announces bid for Kirkpatrick's seat Democratic Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick says she won't seek reelection MORE (Ariz.) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate hears from Biden's high-profile judicial nominees for first time Senate Democrats take aim at 'true lender' interest rate rule Former North Carolina chief justice launches Senate campaign MORE (N.C.).

Now add three more Republican senators who are about to retire. They are less vulnerable to intimidation by Trump since they are leaving the political stage.

Alexander — whom I’ve already counted — leads this group, which also includes Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrBattle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers FDA unveils plan to ban menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to country: 'Turning peril into possibility' MORE (N.C.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThe unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Lummis adopts 'laser eyes' meme touting Bitcoin MORE (Wyo.) and Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 Lobbying world MORE (Kan.).

That makes 11 possible votes to convict, taking us more than halfway to the 20 GOP votes necessary to remove Trump.

Now there is another element to consider — the political grudge.

There are way more than nine GOP senators who have been insulted, berated, demeaned and threatened by Trump since he ran for president.

Here’s a good example: Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Sherrod Brown calls Rand Paul 'kind of a lunatic' for not wearing mask Overnight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna MORE (R-Ky.), the loudest advocate for a restrained U.S. foreign policy and a recent critic of Trump’s action against Iran.


Trump once tweeted: “Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain.”

Then there’s Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls MORE (R-Texas).

Trump famously suggested Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. He also insulted the senator’s wife and threatened to “spill the beans” about her.

By the way, there is no love lost between Trump and Murkowski.

After the Alaskan voted against the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill, Trump tweeted that she “really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad.”

I’m reminded of a Wall Street Journal piece from last year about Trump defenders who ended up being damaged by covering up for his wrongdoing — men such as National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean Cohen Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels blast FEC for dropping Trump probe FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments DOJ asks for outside lawyer to review Giuliani evidence MORE.

“They pledged fealty to Mr. Trump and dedicated themselves to shielding him,” the Journal wrote. “For a while, they became wealthier and more powerful through their association with him. But Mr. Trump ultimately offered little back in protection or respect.” 

The 20 votes may be there.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.