By JOHN KANELIS / firstname.lastname@example.org
I hate to deliver bad news, but I am going to deliver some right here.
It appears that the upcoming Senate trial of Donald J. Trump is not going to produce a richly deserved conviction of the former president. It has nothing to do with the evidence that he incited an insurrection. It has everything to do with what I expect to be a display of political cowardice among Senate Republicans who will face the mother of political revenge if they do the right thing.
The House impeached Trump on an allegation that he whipped the rioters into the frenzy that erupted when they stormed into the Capitol Building on the Sixth of January. I saw the president make those remarks. I saw the rioters’ response to it. Trump committed an act of incitement of insurrection.
The Constitution sets a high bar for the Senate to convict a president. It states that two-thirds of senators must agree. That means 17 GOP senators have to do the right thing.
Ten GOP House members joined their Democratic colleagues in impeaching Trump. The most notable of them is Rep. Liz Cheney, a member of the Republican leadership. She has been threatened with a primary challenge; some of her fellow GOP colleagues want her replaced as a congressional leader.
Therein is the problem facing Republican senators who might be inclined to convict Trump. Do they do what’s right and convict or do they seek to salvage their Senate careers by deciding to acquit?
The Senate will convene a trial on Feb. 9. The delay is of no particular consequence, given that Trump is now out of office. The only goal remaining is for Democrats and at least 17 Republicans vote to convict him, setting up a follow up vote: whether to ban Trump from ever seeking public office, which requires only a simple majority.
So … here we are. Fifty Senate Republicans face a reckoning. Do they punish a former GOP president who demonstrated for all the world that he is unfit for public office? Or do they scurry into the tall grass and avoid angering the cultists who continue to worship the ground on which Donald Trump treads?
I fear the latter … to their everlasting shame.