Fox News host Chris Wallace claimed on Sunday that a “well-connected” member of the GOP told him there is a 20% chance Republicans will vote to remove President Donald Trump from office, the Washington Examiner reports.
Wallace made the extraordinary comment in an interview with White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who has been under fire since admitting last week that there was deal made between Trump and the president of Ukraine. The discussion comes amid chatter of a Republican revolt against Trump over his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.
“I talked to a very well-connected Republican in Washington, someone whose name you would know well, who says that if the House votes to impeach and it gets to a trial in the Senate, there’s now a 20% chance enough Republicans would vote with Democrats to impeach the president,” Wallace told Mulvaney, according to Breitbart.
Wallace bets on Trump’s odds
While Trump’s impeachment in the House seems all but certain, his removal from the Senate is far more speculative. At least 20 Republicans would need to defect to reach the two-thirds majority needed for a conviction.
Nevertheless, tensions between Trump and Republican Party members have encouraged gleeful gossip in the media that Trump is alienating his own party and sealing his doom. In a combative interview with Trump’s chief of staff on Fox News Sunday, Wallace didn’t hesitate to push an anonymous, unsubstantiated claim that Trump is losing support he needs to stay in office.
Mulvaney pushed back, according to The Hill, observing that Trump was well aware that his decision to remove troops from Syria was politically risky in the swamp of Washington, and that Republican senators will ultimately have to answer to voters back home. Trump is overwhelmingly popular with Republican voters, and his base is largely backing his decision to remove some 1,000 troops from northern Syria.
“That’s just absurd,” Mulvaney told Wallace. “The comment about the 20% is just a person who clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” he added. “No, the president is extraordinarily popular back home, more popular in the swing districts now that impeachment has started.”
Tensions in the GOP
Trump’s decision to remove troops from northern Syria has prompted significant backlash from the media, Democrats, and many Republicans — including those who ordinarily support him, like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — who have accused Trump of abandoning the Kurds to attack by Turkey, a NATO ally, and granting Russia, Iran and ISIS a foothold. It comes at an inopportune time, as Trump faces a unilateral and still-unauthorized impeachment inquiry from Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
In the impeachment matter, Republicans have publicly and fervently backed Trump, blasting the impeachment inquiry as an illegitimate attempt to damage Trump’s reputation 13 months before he faces re-election — but even still, some say that there are signs of revolt brewing in the Senate GOP.
McConnell dashed off a Washington Post op-ed calling the Syria withdrawal a “grave mistake,” and Trump nemesis Mitt Romney, a Republican senator from Utah, has been auditioning hard for the role of “the conscience of the GOP” as Trump faces impeachment. According to The Atlantic, the Utah senator has been privately re-reading documents from America’s Founding, like the Federalist Papers, supposedly in agonized meditation on whether he would vote to remove Trump.
Channeling his usual self-righteous, melodramatic rhetoric, Romney denounced Trump’s decision to abandon Kurds in Syria as a “bloodstain on the annals of American history.” But while few Republicans seem as likely to vote for Trump’s removal as Romney, he’s not the only Republican senator showing signs of discontent, and Republicans in the House have voted in a bipartisan majority to denounce Trump’s Syria decision, according to TIME magazine.
For his part, McConnell has said that he will take up an impeachment trial speedily if the House votes to go down that road. But while Trump is certainly weathering a storm within his ranks, Wallace’s claim still looks more like wishful thinking from the Never-Trump media than a plausible prediction.