President Trump is showing how he could be impeached, survive and still win re-election, something never done before in American history.
Trump officials think two things must unfold for this to happen: Republicans must stay unified, in votes and voice, and the economy must be strong, in jobs and market returns. The trends are strong on both fronts, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei and I report.
- Every single House Republican voted against a formal impeachment proceeding, a powerful show of unity. In the Senate, there are very few public signs of the Great Red Wall cracking.
- Importantly, Senate Republicans are discussing how they will defend Trump even if Democrats prove beyond a shadow of a doubt Trump offered Ukraine a quid pro quo to investigate Joe Biden.
- Sources close to Republican leadership told us they expect many GOP senators to ultimately settle on a talking point that Trump's actions were "inappropriate but not impeachable."
- The economy is humming, too. Markets are rising; growth continues, albeit more slowly; and more jobs are materializing. It's hard to argue that the Trump economy is anything but consistently strong one year out from the presidential election.
The big picture: "The worst-case scenario" — that the Senate convicts Trump — "only presents itself if there's a material change in fact pattern," said a source close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "If we know what we know right now, there is no problem."
Behind the scenes: McConnell has privately told Trump that Senate Republicans aren't as susceptible to his pressure as House Republicans are.
- The Senate leader encouraged Trump to give all Republican senators some room and not single anyone out that he may see as wobbly, per sources familiar with McConnell's advice to the president. Trump has recently pulled back from attacking Senate Republicans he deems insufficiently loyal.
- McConnell has advised his colleagues to play offense where they can — for example, his resolution with Lindsey Graham criticizing Democrats' process. And he's advised his more skittish, moderate, colleagues to deflect reporters' questions by saying they'll be "a juror" in Trump's Senate trial and therefore can't comment.
Sources close to GOP Senate leadership said they were encouraged that not a single House Republican broke ranks on the impeachment proceeding vote last week.
- An important part of the Senate GOP strategy is to present impeachment as an entirely partisan exercise.
Remember this number: Most polls show Trump's favorable rating among Republicans remains between 85% and 90%, after all the Ukraine revelations.
- Ignore the cable and Twitter chatter about elected Republicans turning on Trump until a bunch actually do with their votes and actions. So far, there is scant evidence this is or will happen.
Go deeper: FiveThirtyEight's Perry Bacon Jr. writes that "Republicans are already unified behind Trump — unlike in past impeachment processes."