Conservative Drumbeat for Removal of Trump Intensifies

Donald J. Trump has been impeached for crimes against the Constitution. The case specifically involves his now widely documented effort to extort political favors from Ukraine by withholding military aid at a time when Russia is escalating its military aggression against the country. The charges could not be more serious; the stakes could not be more fundamental.

We are now seeing a steadily escalating drumbeat for Trump’s removal among leading conservative institutions and publications.

  • This week, Christianity Today surprised the country by publishing an editorial calling for Trump’s removal, citing his “gross immorality and ethical incompetence”.
  • Now, The National Review, a leading conservative landmark publication, argues all four critical criteria for removal of the president—that he did what is alleged, that he abused power or was derelict, that his crimes are impeachable, and that it would better to remove him than allow him to continues serving—have been met.
  • And, The American Conservative argues the case for Trump’s removal is “overwhelming”, that there is no credible defense for what he did, and that everyone in the House and Senate must now face “a simple test of their fidelity to the Constitution”.

A new Politico Morning Consult poll finds a majority of Americans support removing Trump from office. The breakdown of the numbers should be even more worrying for Trump:

  • Only 42% disapprove of his removal.
  • Generation Z voters (the youngest bloc of eligible voters) overwhelmingly support his removal by a margin of 65% to 28%.
  • Millennials and Generation X support removal 57-36 and 55-37 respectively.
  • Among baby boomers (Trump’s own generation), 45% support his removal.
  • And, among self-identified Evangelical Christian voters, fully 43% support his removal from office.

A deeply flawed major media reporting landscape has created the impression that this process is “partisan”. The White House has been threatening and cajoling members of the Republican Party to show allegiance to Trump. Former Senator Jeff Flake says there are at least 35 Republican senators who want Trump removed from office.

  • The Bulwark, a new conservative political magazine, describes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as “fundamentally distorting our constitutional norms and damaging the health of American politics today”, and calls for principled Senators to “vindicate the Constitutional order”.
  • Republicans for the Rule of Law is a coalition of leading Republican legal minds committed to making the case that defense of the Constitution requires legal processes to play out, with no special protection for the President, to hold Trump accountable before the law.
  • The Lincoln Project: Senior Republican political strategists have formed a Super PAC to counter Trump’s corrosive effect on the Republican Party and on American democracy, with the intent of making sure he does not secure a second term in office.

The process is not partisan; it only appears to be so in a landscape of political discourse in which every media report starts from the premise that Democrats and Republicans are opposed on all issues, all values, all ways of envisioning and understanding what it means to serve. Such a media landscape allows the most cynical voices on the President’s side to shape the discourse for all Republicans and conservatives.

The uniform Republican support for Trump is an illusion. The illusion has been carefully created by Trump, his allies in Congress and the more cynical and punitive major Republican donors. But there are many reasons for Republicans to be wary of that donor machine. (There is, for instance, an active criminal prosecution in New York, involving the President’s lawyer, money linked to the Kremlin, and money laundering allegedly operating through a pro-Trump political action committee.)

The Senate Majority Leader’s case for a Senate trial without witnesses or further evidence gathering is untenable, as new evidence continues to emerge of Trump taking direct instruction from Vladimir Putin and illegally acting to cut off aid to Ukraine as part of his extortion scheme.

What is actually happening: Across the country, conservatives and Republicans are getting more comfortable with expressing their moral clarity that Trump must be removed from office for his brazen betrayals, his coordinated criminal abuse of office, and his systematic degradation of the moral core of our shared civic space.

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