Trump only 6 votes away from impeachment as the GOP bails: Analysis
With Republicans showing a willingness to defy him, a tide has been turning against Trump that ultimately could sweep him out of office.
Trump's path to impeachment may be shorter than previously thought, largely because he has alienated a wide swath of the Senate, says an analyst for a nonpartisan Washington think tank.
Impeachment requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate, and 12 Republican senators have shown "a willingness to take on the president when he is wrong," writes Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institution. She notes that if you add those senators to the 48 Democrats in the Senate, that leaves Trump six votes away from impeachment.
Kamarck notes that such a scenario would require certain trajectories to continue — including the mushrooming Russia investigation, growing weakness in the Republican base and defiance toward the president in the Senate.
The latter has been unprecedented. In the last month, three Republicans broke with their party to sink the president's promised repeal of Obamacare, and the Senate near-unanimously passed a package of sanctions against Russia while limiting Trump's ability to ease them.
Not helping his case: Trump has repeatedly lashed out at members of his own party, alienating even his closest loyalists. After the Obamacare-repeal defeat, Trump called Republicans "fools" and "total quitters." Trump has publicly slammed Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on Twitter and for TV cameras. Jeff Sessions, who was the first Senator to endorse Trump, has also been subjected to Trump's public criticism over the Russia investigation, sparking reports that the president wants to fire him.
In response, Republicans are introducing bills that would limit the president's ability to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the Russia investigation. Senate judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley has warned the president that if he fires the attorney general, there will not be confirmation hearings for a replacement this year.
All that came before the president's disastrous handling of last weekend's domestic-terror attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which one woman was killed and 19 injured after a white nationalist rammed a crowd with his car. Trump's defense of white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville has drawn near-universal public condemnation, with Republicans such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) calling out the president by name.
Wherever impeachment momentum stands, a longtime Trump observer foresees a different outcome. Tony Schwartz, who co-authored Trump's 1987 autobiography "The Art of the Deal," predicted this week that "the circle is closing in" on the Russia investigation and that Trump will resign before the end of the year.