Polls that show Trump’s standing with the public dropping to the lowest point of his presidency have reinforced their desire to be rid of him. So have announcements by businesses that they will no longer give Republicans money.
In the aftermath of the Georgia results, senior Republicans, especially Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is about to become the minority leader because of the Georgia defeats, had already begun looking for ways to separate their party from Trump. The riot added urgency to that quest.
On Tuesday, associates of McConnell’s told several news organizations that he could support impeachment.
The clearest public evidence of Trump’s decline could be seen as the House began debate on efforts to remove him from office. In speeches and written statements, only a handful of Republicans, almost all from the party’s extreme right, defended his conduct. Most of those who said they would vote in his favor confined themselves to arguments about process or objections that ending his tenure early would be divisive.
Not one of the top three Republicans in the House spoke Tuesday night during debate on a resolution to urge Vice President Pence to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. One of the three, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, has announced her support for impeachment. The other two, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, left the defense of the president to Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of Trump’s most loyal backers.
The reticence of Trump’s onetime allies stood in sharp contrast to the full-throated defenses they offered a year ago during the first impeachment.
Their lack of a strong defense this time also contrasted with the passionate denunciations from the handful of Republicans who said they back impeachment.
Shortly before the debate began, Cheney, for example, excoriated Trump for helping incite the rioters.
“The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing,” Cheney said.
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”