The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has pledged “total coordination” with the White House in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. But the 47-member Democratic caucus in the Senate could take control of key parts of the process, enabling them to call witnesses or merely to prevent a quick dismissal of the case, by recruiting four Republicans to make a 51-seat majority.
A two-thirds majority of 67 senators would be needed to convict and remove Trump from office, a seemingly unreachable number for Democrats.
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But the Democrats might be able to put together a temporary, simple majority to steer the process as it unfolds. Here’s a look at Republican senators who might join the Democrats on procedural measures during the trial – and two Democrats who could vote the other way.
Since his arrival in the Senate last year, the 72-year-old Utah senator has been a critic of Donald Trump from within the Republican party. The pair have history dating back to Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign – which Trump supported until he lost to Obama – and in 2016 Romney claimed Trump was a “phoney” and a “fraud”.
Despite this, the president considered Romney for secretary of state and endorsed his Senate campaign. More recently, Romney has condemned Trump’s efforts to get other countries to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden and his decision to pull out of Syria. In response, he has attracted the Twitter ire of the president, who has called him a “pompous ass” and employed the hashtag #IMPEACHMITTROMNEY.
When it comes to the impeachment trial, Romney, who is popular in Utah, has not publicly offered the president any assurances. In December he told CNN he was “keeping an open mind” and would make a decision once he had heard the evidence and “arguments from both sides”.
The Alaska Republican, who is in her fourth term as senator, has form voting against party leadership and opposed the controversial supreme court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. In December, Murkowski, 62, said she was “ disturbed ” by McConnell’s talk of “total coordination” and that there should be distance between the White House and the Senate on the trial. She said it “remains to be seen” how witnesses would be dealt with but asserted that she was still undecided on how she will vote. “For me to prejudge and say there’s nothing there or on the other hand, he should be impeached yesterday, that’s wrong, in my view, that’s wrong,” she told television station KTUU.
The Maine Republican has also criticised her fellow senators for seeming to “prejudge the evidence” ahead of an impeachment trial. Singling out the Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren and Republican McConnell, she said : “There are senators on both sides of the aisle, who, to me, are not giving the appearance of and the reality of judging that’s in an impartial way.”
Collins, 67, who was in the Senate for the Bill Clinton impeachment, has said she is open to calling witnesses in the Trump trial but that it is “premature” to decide on who. During the Clinton trial, she said she compiled a notebook of documents and that she has told colleagues that the approach to the 1999 trial worked well.
But her position in the Senate isn’t safe. In December, on the same day the House voted to impeach Trump, she announced she was running for a fifth term this year. In a deeply divided state, she faces a tough road to re-election in November, and is considered one of the country’s most vulnerable Republican senators.
As a vulnerable senator facing re-election in Colorado, where the president is not popular, the Republican has avoided speaking on the issue. But this week he criticised Nancy Pelosi’s handling of the impeachment process. In a statement to the Denver Post, he branded the impeachment inquiry a “total circus that has only served to divide this country”. It stated that Gardner, 45, will be a juror in the trial and “is confident the process in the Senate will be bipartisan and fair”.
Appointed to Senator John Kyi’s seat after his resignation, following her lossto the Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in a closely fought 2018 race, the Republican Arizona senator is up for re-election in the potential swing state in November and is vulnerable. The air force veteran and former Arizona representative criticised partisanship and warned that impeachment is “a serious matter”. “People want us to take a serious look at this and not have it be just partisan bickering going on,” McSally, 53, told 12 News KPNX.
The Republican from Tennessee has branded the president’s behaviour “inappropriate”, but has said that impeachment would be a “mistake”. However, with his impending retirement – after three terms, he will not be seeking re-election in November – the 79-year-old former governor could be more open to voting against Trump than some of his Republican Senate colleagues.
As the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alabama in a quarter of a century and in danger of losing his re-election bid this year, Doug Jones is considered the most likely of his party to back the president. Writing in the Washington Post, Jones, 65, who beat Roy Moore in a special election in 2017 in the pro-Trump state, said it was vital to hold a “full, fair and complete trial with all relevant evidence regarding the president’s conduct”. But, he claimed, Trump has “blocked” access to witnesses and documents.
The moderate West Virginia Democrat has revealed he is “very much torn” about whether to vote to convict the president – fuelling the suggestion he could vote against removing Trump from office. Speaking in December he told CNN : “We have a divided country. On the other hand, we have equal branch of governments, responsibilities in the constitution. There are a lot of things at stake here.”
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