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Trump’s Attacks Could Leave Him Friendless if Impeachment Comes

Trump might find himself without the friends in congress he would need to defend himself in an impeachment proceeding, says the chairman of the senate judiciary committee, Chuck Grassley
Trump’s Attacks Could Leave Him Friendless if Impeachment ComesTrump’s Attacks Could Leave Him Friendless if Impeachment Comes

US President Donald Trump has stepped up his attacks on Republican senators, an approach he may regret if he is someday impeached and the senate has to weigh charges against him stemming from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

More than half of the 11 Republicans on the senate judiciary committee, which would be central to any proceeding to remove Trump from office, have tangled with the Republican president, including on Thursday when he fired off early-morning tweets, Reuters reported.

In one Twitter series, Trump called Senator Lindsey Graham “publicity seeking” and said he “just can’t forget his election trouncing” in the 2016 presidential race. Trump also assailed Senator Jeff Flake, another Republican critic, as “a non-factor in the senate,” adding, “He’s toxic.”

Flake and Graham are members of the judiciary committee, whose chairman Chuck Grassley has urged Trump to tone it down.

“He should be 100% sticking to ideas and forget about personalities,” Grassley said on Friday when pressed on whether Trump might find himself without the friends in Congress he would need to defend himself in an impeachment proceeding.

For his part, Grassley said his views would not be colored by past presidential sniping.

“Let’s say the house of representatives impeached the president of the United States. Then I’m a juror,” Grassley said. “The senate is the jury that decides whether he should be impeached. The jury is supposed to be impartial.”

Two presidents have been impeached by the house: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Neither was convicted by the senate. President Richard Nixon, facing almost certain impeachment over the Watergate scandal, resigned in 1974.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

  Letting Attacks Gain Momentum

Having friends would help any president facing impeachment, said Charles Brain, a White House liaison to congress during Clinton’s impeachment.

Without such friendships, Brain said, lawmakers “can just be quiet,” refusing to share information with the White House and letting attacks on the president gain momentum.

Besides Flake and Graham, Trump has had run-ins over various issues before and after his election with Republican Senator Ted Cruz, and other judiciary committee members, including Grassley, John Cornyn, Orrin Hatch, Thom Tillis and Ben Sasse.

The president has also at times attacked Republican senators not on the committee, including Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Lisa Murkowski.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election. Grassley’s committee also is looking into the matter, as are other congressional panels.

The Kremlin denies any election interference. Trump has dismissed the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt” and denies any collusion. In the end, Mueller could end up clearing Trump and his aides of any wrongdoing.

If not, at least two questions will loom large in a possible impeachment inquiry, said senior fellow Elaine Kamarck of the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution think tank.

One would be about the severity of any possible charges. Another, she said, would be “do you have friends, do you have people who believe in you and want to save your presidency?”

 

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