President Donald Trump has publicly signaled that he is unfazed by the fact that the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is looking to impeach him, dismissing the opposition party’s actions as yet another meaningless, partisan witch hunt.
Privately, however, the president has behaved differently. According to a new report from Axios, Trump worries that impeachment could ruin his legacy.
In a phone call with House Republicans on Friday, Trump told his allies that impeachment is a “bad thing to have on your resume.”
After raising his concerns, the commander-in-chief said that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy would benefit from him being impeached.
“But it’s going to make Kevin speaker,” he said.
According to individuals familiar with Trump’s thinking, although these remarks may seem like inconsequential, throwaway comments made during a lengthy phone call, they perfectly convey how the president feels about being impeached.
Some have speculated that Trump is actually looking forward to impeachment, because he believes it could help him moving forward.
According to other sources, however, Trump thinks that impeachment would help the Republican Party win back the House, and help him get re-elected, but remains concerned about it leaving a stain on his legacy.
Trump has also discussed the idea of embarking on an effort to stop the House from voting to impeach. According to Axios, the president has been telling aides that he believes he could pressure House Democrats in districts where he won in 2016 to vote against impeachment.
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However, according to a person familiar with Trump’s thinking, the president is “not in denial,” and understands that the House is probably going to vote to impeach him.
Although the House would likely vote to impeach Trump, he would almost certainly not be convicted by the Senate.
The upper chamber would nevertheless have to hold a trial. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently explained, he would have “no choice” but to take impeachment up for a trial, given that the Republican Party does not have a super-majority required to avoid holding it.
Not everyone would be satisfied with this approach, including some prominent conservative Trump supporters.
Tom Fitton, the president of right-wing group Judicial Watch, argued in an interview on Saturday that McConnell needs to use the “nuclear option” and kill the impeachment trial.
If he were the top Republican in the Senate, Fitton said he would tell the House to kill it now.
“This is dead on arrival, we’re changing the rules, we are going to kill it before it even gets out of the cradle,” he said.