GUEST WORDS--If you have seen the 1995 movie Casino, the fate of Joe Pesci’s character gives a fairly good sense of how Donald Trump might eventually be impeached and removed from office.
f you haven’t seen Casino, Pesci’s character, Nicky Santoro, is basically the same as his GoodFellas character: a mobster so violent and erratic he scares the other mobsters. Throughout the film, the narrator tells us that the Mafia bosses disapprove of Santoro’s out-of-control behavior but let him operate anyway because he keeps sending suitcases full of cash back home every month. Their tolerance appears to be infinite, until eventually they reach a breaking point and bury him in a cornfield.
Throughout Trump’s presidency, I’ve dismissed the possibility that he could be removed from office. In all likelihood, the Senate will come nowhere close to mustering the 67 votes needed to do so. But over the past few weeks, the outline of a removal scenario has begun to take shape. The prospect is no longer a fantasy.
The Republican Establishment has largely submitted to Trump, and its acquiescence has come to seem like an immutable fact of this partisan age. But the alliance between Trump and the Republican Congress has visibly fragmented in recent weeks. Last week, the House voted 354–60 to condemn Trump’s Syria policy. Mitch McConnell has promised an even stronger resolution of disapproval in the Senate. Internal pressure from Republicans forced Trump to reverse his plans to hold the G7 summit at a Trump property, a crushing defeat for a president who despises both outward signs of weakness and missed chances to profit.
Senate Republicans may both fear Trump and use him for their own ends, but they have very little love for him. Almost all of them would privately vote for an act-of-God scenario where Trump drops dead — not violently but peacefully, without suffering, ideally surrounded in his bed by a loving retinue of Fox News personalities, Ivanka, and perhaps a tasteful array of magazine covers bearing his likeness. The trouble for the Republican Senate has always been how they get from here to there. (Read the rest.)