Trump Impeachment: Republicans Already Placing Bets On Who Pence Will Pick As V.P. [Report]

Republican members of Congress are already placing their bets on who Vice President Mike Pence would pick as vice president after President Donald Trump is impeached and removed from office, according to a new report. The speculative game reportedly ongoing among Republican members of Congress is based on an assessment that there is an increased likelihood that Trump would eventually be impeached and removed from office. Under the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, the vice president takes over if the president is removed from office for any reason. The new president would then pick his own vice president, subject to a majority vote in Congress.

According to a report by Axios, following reports that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice and irregular financial dealings, a new favorite "parlor game" has emerged among Republican members of Congress involving "what if scenario" speculation about who Pence would pick as his vice president if Trump is impeached and removed from office. Republicans involved in the alleged "parlor game" also speculate about the impact that alternative VP picks would have on the polity.

The most popular alternative scenarios in the VP speculation game involve Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Nikki Haley, Bob Gates and John Boehner, according to Axios. Other "what if scenarios" are based on picks such as Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani and Jeff Session.

The participants also widen the scope of the game beyond likely picks among Republicans to speculative scenarios based on unlikely picks, such as Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg.

Many agreed that picking a mainstream or establishment Republican, such as Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and Nikki Haley, as vice president would signal a "return to normalcy," that is, a return to the Republican Party's pre-Trump status quo.

Many also agreed that Mitt Romney, the former GOP presidential candidate and former governor of Massachusetts, was the most likely pick because picking Paul Ryan could disrupt the stability of Congress. Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and current U.S. ambassador to the U.N., is also widely favored as likely establishment choice if Vice President Mike Pence emerges as president.

Some suggested that an alternative strategy might be to pick a candidate who helps to reassure the entire country and calm frayed nerves. Picking individuals such as Robert Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, Mitch Daniels, the 49th Governor of Indiana, or former House Speaker John Boehner, would help to ease tensions within the polity and relieve the "anxiety" generated by Trump's emergence.

Picks such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg would help to calm the country by signaling a desire to reverse the Trump-era status quo in the White House, others suggested. Picking Biden or Bloomberg would contrast sharply with picks such as Jeff Sessions, Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich. The choice of Sessions or Giuliani would suggest a desire to sustain the spirit of "Trumpism" and its "America first" policy.

The claim that Republicans are already speculating about the emergence of Pence as president comes as Richard Painter, a former President George W. Bush ethics lawyer, warned in a post to Twitter on Saturday that if President Donald Trump follows Fox News' advice to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller then Americans should expect that they would "soon" be calling Mike Pence "Mr. President."

"Just appeared on FOX News. They are building a case for firing Mueller. If that happens Mike Pence will soon become the 46th President."
"Trump surrogates are making up Mueller 'conflicts' to justify firing him," Painter said. "That will be yet more obstruction of justice if it happens."

The warning from Painter came after reports that President Trump was considering the possibility of firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax, recently told PBS NewsHour that there were indications that Trump could be weighing the option of firing Mueller.

"I think he's weighing that option," Ruddy said. "I think it's pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently. I personally think it would be a very significant mistake."

[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]