Just when President Trump needs friends in the Senate, he’s been busy starting a fight with yet another Senator. As I noted in a blog post yesterday, 12 Republican Senators have broken from their president in one way or another, but number 13 is a doozy—Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky). McConnell, of course, is the Senate Majority Leader. He has led the Republican Party in the Senate, either as Majority Leader or Minority Leader, for a decade. It’s safe to assume that other Republican Senators like him or at least, respect him, and are willing to follow him—which is why Senator number 13, by my count, may well be Donald Trump’s unlucky number.
In a speech back home in Kentucky, McConnell made a fairly bland statement to the effect that President Trump is new to Washington and thus may have had “excessive expectations” about how quickly things can happen there. To that, the president fired back one of his famous early-morning tweets: “…After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done[sic]?” That followed a tweet by White House social media director Dan Scavino, Jr.: “More excuses. [McConnell] must have needed another 4 years – in addition to the 7 years — to repeal and replace Obamacare…”
As I argued in my initial piece, the Senate is the only body that can kick a president out of office. Trump’s habit of picking fights with senators of his own party is mind-boggling behavior for someone who is under investigation and who could very well end up impeached and in a trial in the Senate. It is yet another self-inflicted wound by a man who doesn’t seem to have read the Constitution of the United States. So here it is—Article 1: Section 3:
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. [Emphasis added.]
It is also important for the president to remember something else critically important to the future of his presidency. If impeachment happens and the Senate trial begins, Senators will have to ask themselves two questions. First, is it politically risky to remove President Trump from office? (My colleague, John Hudak, addressed the political calculations in a Brookings podcast in May.) And second, would senators rather work with President Trump or President Pence? As the president finds new ways to make enemies in the Senate, Vice President Pence is doing a good job endearing himself to them—and keeping his mouth shut on Twitter.