The great Senate anticlimax will soon be upon us, if you haven’t heard—an impeachment trial that will acquit President Donald Trump just as predictably as the Democratic-led House voted to charge him last month.
It’s an outcome so widely assumed that, given Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s delay in formally sending articles of impeachment over to the Senate, the public may be wondering whether there’s going to be a trial at all.
Yet while it is indeed nearly impossible to foresee 67 senators voting to remove Trump from office 10 months before a presidential election, there remains a lot more intrigue and uncertainty in the Senate than there was in the House, where not a single Republican broke with the president to back impeachment.
Trump’s fate will rest largely with the 53 Senate Republicans. At least 20 GOP senators would have to vote to convict the president, and there’s virtually no way that many will turn against a man who has tightened his viselike grip on their party. But a bipartisan rebuke is still possible. The range of votes for removal could go as high as the low 50s, if a handful of Republicans break with Trump, or it could fall much lower if the president secures total support from the GOP and picks off red-state Democrats like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. And the trial itself could be a relatively dry rehash of the House hearings, or it could feature dramatic new testimony from high-ranking administration officials who refused to cooperate with the House inquiry. That includes John Bolton, the former national security adviser, who yesterday announced that he would comply if the Senate votes to subpoena him.