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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 John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE.

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

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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 BidenTrump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida Supreme Court reinstates ban on curbside voting in Alabama 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 RomneyMitt Romney did not vote for Trump in 2020 election Biden: Johnson should be 'ashamed' for suggesting family profited from their name The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by the Walton Family Foundation — Pope Francis expresses support for same-sex unions MORE (Utah), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDemocrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Senate to vote Monday to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court Senate GOP eyes Oct. 26 for confirming Barrett to Supreme Court MORE (Alaska), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid Senate is leaning to the Democrats, big time, with a wave MORE (Maine) and Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Two weeks out, Trump attempts to rally the base McConnell aims for unity amid growing divisions with Trump Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas 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 McConnellOn The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Trump casts doubt on hopes for quick stimulus deal after aides expressed optimism Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid 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 BoltonJohn Kelly called Trump 'the most flawed person' he's ever met: report Bolton: North Korea 'more dangerous now' Demand for Trump-related titles sparks expected record year for political books 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 Scott GardnerDemocrats seek to block appeal of court ruling ousting Pendley, BLM land plans Senate is leaning to the Democrats, big time, with a wave Cunningham, Tillis locked in tight race in North Carolina: poll 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 ErnstThe Hill's Campaign Report: Obama to hit the campaign trail l Biden's eye-popping cash advantage l New battleground polls favor Biden Poll finds Ernst with 1-point lead in Iowa Senate is leaning to the Democrats, big time, with a wave MORE (Iowa), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallySenate is leaning to the Democrats, big time, with a wave Cunningham, Tillis locked in tight race in North Carolina: poll Senate Republicans offer constitutional amendment to block Supreme Court packing MORE (Ariz.) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP coronavirus bill blocked as deal remains elusive Senate is leaning to the Democrats, big time, with a wave Cunningham, Tillis locked in tight race in North Carolina: poll 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 BurrAs Trump downplayed the virus publicly, memo based on private briefings sparked stock sell-offs: NYT Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Bipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs MORE (N.C.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziBottom line Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection Cynthia Lummis wins GOP Senate primary in Wyoming MORE (Wyo.) and Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP's campaign arm releases first ad targeting Bollier in Kansas The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden hit campaign trail in Florida National Republicans will spend to defend Kansas Senate seat 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 PaulMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Top Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate MORE (R-Ky.), the loudest advocate for a restrained U.S. foreign policy and a recent critic of Trump’s action against Iran.

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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 CruzQuinnipiac poll finds Biden, Trump tied in Texas China could cut our access to critical minerals at any time — here's why we need to act The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Two weeks out, Trump attempts to rally the base 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 CohenMichael Cohen writing second book on Trump administration's Justice Department Bruce Ohr retires from DOJ Trump again asks Supreme Court to shield tax records 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.