President Trump may have obstructed justice — an impeachable offense. And 20 of the 22 Senate Republicans running for reelection could be the ones to send him packing.
BuzzFeed News’ leak from federal agents connected to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office Thursday night is already prompting calls from both members of Congress and the media for Trump to be impeached. According to the report, then-candidate Donald Trump allegedly directed Michael Cohen to commit perjury while being questioned by Congress, and green-lighted his proposal to meet face-to-face with Vladimir Putin to discuss a potential Trump Tower Moscow real estate project.
If the report is true, ordering the commission of perjury would be obstruction of justice, which is a felony under federal law.
This would not be the first felony Trump has been implicated in, as Cohen previously stated under oath that Trump directed him to make “hush money” payments to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford (Stormy Daniels) and model Karen McDougal in violation of federal campaign finance law. But with the latest news from the Mueller probe, calls for impeachment are mounting.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California) tweeted Thursday evening that, if the BuzzFeed report’s claims are valid, the House Judiciary Committee should begin hearings to determine whether or not President Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which the U.S. Constitution defines as cause for impeachment. Rep. Lieu even tweeted the exact section of federal code that defines obstruction of justice as a felony offense.
So many felonies @POTUS may have committed. How about 18 U.S.C. § 1505:
"Whoever … endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede … the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House" is guilty of a felony. https://t.co/iV85dsC78Y
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 18, 2019
Assuming the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee passes articles of impeachment to the full House floor, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is likely to vote to impeach Trump, as they have the majority and don’t need any Republican support. However, actually removing Trump from office would still require a two-thirds vote in the Republican-controlled Senate, who acts as the jury in a trial presided over by a Supreme Court justice.
The senate is under Republican control, with 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two independents who caucus with Democrats. And with the two-thirds threshold being met with 67 votes, that means only 20 Republicans would be needed to actually remove Trump from the White House, assuming all Democrats and both independents also vote in favor of removal.
While Senate Republicans are typically loyal to a fault when it comes to the Trump administration, there are 22 Republicans up for reelection in 2020. If voters in their home states made it clear that they wanted to see President Trump removed from office, it could put these senators in an awkward position of having to side with the Democrats and independents in the U.S. Senate.
Here are the names of all 22 Republicans fighting for reelection next year:
1. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee)
2. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia)
3. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana)
4. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
5. John Cornyn (R-Texas)
6. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas)
7. Steve Daines (R-Montana)
8. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming)
9. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)
10. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado)
11. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)
12. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi)
13. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma)
14. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) — it should be noted that Sen. Kyl, who is filling the seat vacated by John McCain after his death, has said he’s not running for re-election in 2020, and someone else will likely be appointed to fill the seat for the remaining two years of McCain’s term, which was due to end in 2022.
15. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
16. David Perdue (R-Georgia)
17. Jim Risch (R-Idaho)
18. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)
19. Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota)
20. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska)
21. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)
22. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina)
Nearly of these senators are in states Trump won in 2016. However, it should be noted that both Alabama and Arizona recently had Democrats win statewide elections for the first time in decades. This means it’s still feasible that voters from those states could pressure their senators to vote in favor of ousting Trump if voters from those states made it clear their senators’ reelection was dependent on Trump being removed from the White House.
And given the high crimes and misdemeanors Trump has already been accused of, that political will may already be there.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.