With Donald Trump's impeachment trial scheduled to begin on February 8, there is a clear divide amongst Senate Republicans over convicting the former president of inciting a riot ahead of the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Seventeen Republicans would be required to vote in favor of impeachment with Democrats to ensure his conviction. According to a report by The Hill, Trump still has many political supporters in Congress who have been involved in a campaign to pressure wavering senators.
The biggest threat facing members of the GOP who break with Trump is a primary challenge, something that could be potentially career-ending if he continues to retain the support of his base while out of politics. Victories in the January Senate runoff races for Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are credited in part to Trump's inability to fully back the GOP candidates and focus more on pushing false claims of fraud during the 2020 presidential election.
While The Hill reports that only five or six Republican senators are expected to vote in favor of impeachment, Trump's supporters are leaving nothing to chance. Part of the efforts include campaigns to denounce the 10 Republican members of the House of Representatives who voted against the president. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida will be traveling to Wyoming this week to hold a rally opposing fellow Republican Rep. Liz Cheney and build support for removing her from party leadership roles. Steve Bannon, a former Trump strategist, has begun featuring Republican primary challengers on his podcast. The first was Tom Norton, who will be primarying Rep. Pete Meijer of Michigan, and encouraged the same to be done against the nine others who voted for impeachment.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah has been the only Republican to publicly advocate for impeachment. Romney -- who also voted against the president during his first impeachment -- feels that Trump must be held accountable after his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and provocation of the crowd at the U.S. Capitol, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
"If we're going to have unity in our country, I think it's important to recognize the need for accountability, for truth and justice," said Romney.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has not made it clear whether he will vote for or against Trump's impeachment. While he is expected to vote against, reports have surfaced that he has told those close to him that Trump's actions on January 6 could be considered impeachable offenses.