We’d all be remiss not to take note when reports indicate that Mitch McConnell has finally thrown in the towel on Donald Trump.
Regular readers may recall that in my estimation, McConnell actually abandoned the president in October, when, having secured a third Supreme Court nominee, thereby cementing conservative jurisprudence for a generation, Mitch wanted nothing to do with the $2 trillion stimulus discussion playing out between Steve Mnuchin and Nancy Pelosi.
To my mind, that episode was one of the financial media’s biggest blunders of 2020. There was never a chance that a stimulus package worth $1.8 trillion (the compromise Mnuchin and Pelosi eventually reached) was going to pass. McConnell said as much explicitly on too many occasions to count. And yet, day in and day out, Bloomberg and CNBC and, although I don’t read it, I assume The Wall Street Journal, continued to pretend as though the stimulus discussion was “live.” It wasn’t. It was just an awkward waltz between Mnuchin and Pelosi that had zero chance in the Senate. It was all for show.
McConnell, I would argue, no longer cared about Trump at that point, and may have already seen the president as a liability. It’s not totally far-fetched to suggest that McConnell was actually hoping Trump would lose the election as long as the GOP held the Senate.
Of course, the GOP ultimately didn’t hold the Senate, and in the hours before last Wednesday’s Capitol melee, myself (and anyone else so apprised) wondered if Trump’s political capital with McConnell was totally exhausted.
Now, Mitch may support impeachment. Or at least that’s the way it sounds.
“There’s a better than 50-50 chance that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would vote to convict President Trump in an impeachment trial,” Axios said, citing sources familiar.
Last week, McConnell gave a speech following the Capitol siege that checked all the right boxes when it came to paying lip service to the Constitution, but most observers were quick to dismiss it, noting that McConnell, more than anyone else, was Trump’s enabler for the better part of four years.
Fast forward a week, and it sounds like Mitch takes this seriously. “This would represent one of the most shocking and damning votes in the history of American politics, by the most powerful Republican in Congress,” Axios went on to say, before writing that, according to their sources, “McConnell sees this fight as his legacy – defending the Senate and the institution against the verbal attack of the president and the literal attack of his followers.”
The New York Times delivered a similar assessment. McConnell “has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party,” wrote.
This was at least four months in the making. Once McConnell had Amy Coney Barrett, he no longer needed Trump. The tax cuts were on the books, the SCOTUS Justices were on the bench, and at the top of the Democratic ticket sat someone who, as far as Democrats go, was a “friendly” face to most establishment Republicans. Don’t kid yourself: Senior GOPers don’t fear Joe Biden. Some of them have known Joe for decades. As long as Republicans’ Senate firewall held, Mitch was fine with cutting Trump loose.
Four months, one blue sweep, and one armed insurrection later, and Mitch may be poised to relegate Trump to the dustbin of political history in the US. If he decides to convict Trump, you can bet the other establishment GOPers in the Senate will fall in line. And that’s to say nothing of the few who would vote to convict him anyway.
I’ll leave you with what I wrote on October 12 in “Waterloo And ‘The People’“:
Coney Barrett’s announcement ceremony was a veritable who’s who of Republicans and top officials. It turned out to be a COVID super-spreader event. Do you know who wasn’t there? I’ll give you one guess.
“I actually haven’t been to the White House since August 6, because my impression was their approach to how to handle [the virus] was different than mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” McConnell said last week.
You don’t want to be on the Beltway edition of “Survivor” with McConnell. But that’s exactly where Trump is right now.