Top Republicans want Trump done — forevermore
Top Republicans want to bury President Trump, for good. But they are divided whether to do it with one quick kill via impeachment, or let him slowly fade away.
- A House impeachment vote, which would make Trump the first president to be impeached twice, is expected in mid-afternoon.
The big picture: Sources tell Axios Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be more likely than not to vote to convict Trump — a green light for other Republican senators to follow.
- House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy would love a Trumpless world, but doesn't want to knife him with fingerprints. This school of thought wants to let Trump do himself in, without a big party fight over his sins and sentence.
- The fade-away caucus sees a danger that the impeachment-conviction route is, as a prominent conservative put it, "making him Jesus. ... Truly stupid."
- But an effort by McCarthy to push a lighter punishment for Trump censure has crumbled.
Republican sentiment turned swiftly against the unrepentant Trump yesterday, starting with a New York Times report that McConnell is "pleased" that Democrats are moving to impeach Trump.
- That was followed by a stunning statement by House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican leader, who said of Trump's abetting of the Capitol "mob": "There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the President."
- Other Republican House members joining Cheney in supporting impeachment (via AP): Reps. John Katko of New York, a former federal prosecutor; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Air Force veteran; Fred Upton of Michigan; and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington.
McConnell, 78, knows this fight will be his legacy. "If you’re McConnell, you want to be remembered for defending the Senate and the institution," said a Republican familiar with McConnell's thinking.
- McConnell is furious at Trump for his total lack of remorse for the Capitol siege, and believes that Trump could only be an impediment to Republicans regaining the Senate majority that they lost on the president's watch.
Trump pushback ... Trump senior adviser Jason Miller, citing a poll of battleground-state voters by John McLaughlin, said: "[I]f you’re a Republican who votes for impeachment, you’re likely serving your last term."
The bottom line ... The way one well-wired Republican put it: "People have been waiting for Trump to do himself in since the escalator ride. If we want him gone, Republicans are going to have to take him down."
Go deeper ... "Explainer: How Trump's 2nd impeachment will unfold"