Democrats face an uphill battle in making forward progress on their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump given that the U.S. Senate is currently controlled by Republicans. However, The Hill reporter Alexander Bolton pointed to a small number of Senate Republicans who might break with the president and vote to convict him.
The list of potential GOP allies Democrats could flip in the Senate comes in the wake of Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy revealing on Friday that there’s a “handful” of Republican senators who he believes could vote in favor of impeaching the president, though he declined to name them.
But according to Bolton’s report, both Senate insiders and observers point to three GOP senators who have the strongest chance of going against the political grain.
The first is Sen. Susan Collins, who has made a reputation of not supporting the president on several key issues since he’s been in the White House. She’s remained mostly silent on the ongoing impeachment inquiry but did make a statement last month that she and her team were carefully scrutinizing the developments in the House-led effort to impeach Trump.
“I’m definitely reading materials. I’ve started reviewing the transcripts. My staff is doing summaries of some of the witnesses. I’ve asked them to compile each day the major moments in the hearings in the House,” Collins said.
That statement came as Collins pointed out that she’ll likely act as a juror if and when articles of impeachment are passed by the House and passed off to the Senate for its final phase. Collins, as of this writing, has not indicated which way she’ll vote.
Sen. Mitt Romney was second on Bolton’s list. The Utah senator hasn’t held much back with regard to criticizing the president’s actions, even calling the Ukraine scandal “troubling in the extreme” at one point.
Though Romney likely has the most leeway in making the decision to vote in favor of Trump’s impeachment, Vin Weber, one of his former presidential campaign advisers, predicts that there’s a fair chance that Romney won’t decide to vote for Trump’s removal in the name of the best interests of America.
However, Weber indicated that depending on the evidence presented, if Romney believes it’s the right move for the country to vote to convict Trump, he’ll do it without hesitation.
“He’s a strong man and he’ll do what he thinks is the right thing,” Weber said of his former boss.
The third Republican senator on Bolton’s list is Sen. Lisa Murkowski, another strong vocal Republican critic of the president. Murkowski grabbed headlines on several occasions by voting against Trump’s attempt to repeal Obamacare. She also voted against Trump’s second U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
Murkowski has also publicly commented on the Ukraine ordeal and expressed disapproval of the president for withholding a U.S. military aid package from Ukraine.
“You don’t hold up foreign aid that we previously appropriated for a political initiative,” Murkowski said in October.
Though rumors are swirling of a small number of Senate Republican defectors, should Trump’s impeachment trial make it that far, impeaching and removing Trump from office would require a two-thirds majority vote in a chamber controlled by powerful GOP senators currently allied with the president.