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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The writing is on the wall, top Republicans tell us: Democrats will likely win the House and undoubtedly move to impeach President Trump.

The big picture: Assuming Democrats win the House, it is inconceivable charges that Trump illegally paid off two women to protect his political campaign, corroborated by two longtime loyalists under oath, alone would not provoke impeachment proceedings. It’s equally inconceivable Robert Mueller won’t provide much more impeachment fodder when he reports his findings.

This is where the insane run of politics could hit peak insanity: Trump knows all he will need is 34 Republican votes in Senate to save his presidency, if he were impeached by the House and tried by the Senate. It takes 67 of 100 senators to remove a president from office.

  • Trump’s political superpower is his willingness to say, do and endure things most humans would never tolerate.
  • So those who know Trump best fully expect he would never surrender and bet his base is so strong, and Republican senators so fearful, his red wall will hold, regardless of evidence.

This wall would include:

  • True Trump loyalists.
  • Newly elected senators who credit Trump for helping them win.
  • Republicans running for reelection in states Trump won by 20 or more points.
  • Republicans in Trump states not up for 2020 reelection.

Why it matters: Yes, this is premature. But also yes, the thinking around Trump is turning to survival in impeachment proceedings.

Be smart ... An experienced Senate vote-counter, on why no one is likely to be #34 to save Trump: "If you lose 10 Rs on something like impeachment, you’re going to lose them all. I think it’s [preserve the] majority [in November] or bust."

Go deeper ... From Axios PM, "Trump's hell week: fear and fury," by Jonathan Swan:

  • "For the first time, I’m hearing real fear and concern in the voices of Trump allies."
Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: U.S. ahead of pace on vaccines.
  2. Health: Lessons for trapping the next pandemic.
  3. Tech: "Fludemic" model accurately maps COVID hotspotsVirtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off.
  4. Politics: Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
  5. World: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between doses — In AstraZeneca spat, EU fights hard for a vaccine its hardly using.
Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

In AstraZeneca spat, EU fights hard for a vaccine it's hardly using

Macron, Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel (R) at a summit in October. Photo: Yves Herman/Pool/AFP via Getty

Italy on Thursday blocked the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca doses to Australia, becoming the first EU country to exercise an export ban due to a vaccine shortfall in the bloc.

Why it matters: The controversial step exposes multiple major challenges to distributing vaccines — even among the world’s richest countries.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Global freedom continues steady decline: report

The global erosion of democracy has continued for a 15th consecutive year, according to an annual report from Freedom House.

Zoom in: The report calls particular attention to India, which slipped from “free” to “partly free” due to the government's “scapegoating of Muslims” and “crackdown on critics.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, according to the report, “driving India itself toward authoritarianism.”