Accuracy in Media

It is labeled “Analysis,” but a piece Thursday in the Washington Post purported to provide a road map for how Democrats can lure enough Republican senators to vote against President Trump in an impeachment inquiry so he could be removed from office.

“Focus on the GOP senators weighing history’s judgment for Trump’s fate,” read the headline on Paul Kane’s story.

“House Democrats building their impeachment case against President Trump need to think like smart prosecutors who aren’t just trying to win a grand jury indictment but also want to succeed in a jury trial,” Kane’s piece opens.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a clear majority in the House willing to vote to turn the current investigation into a formal impeachment inquiry, Kane wrote, despite the fact Pelosi has scrupulously avoided such a vote.

The president knows she has the votes, Kane wrote, so if that’s the case, “House committee chairman might be able to begin building a case designed to actually turn some Senate Republicans against Trump. So far, most attention from Democrats and the media has focused on a handful or so of Senate Republicans up for reelection next year in states where Democrats have either recently won or competed in presidential campaigns.

“That’s a mistake.”

Instead, Kane wrote, “Democrats should focus on a clutch of roughly 10 incumbents with several similar character traits: senior statesmen within their caucus who have either announced their plans to retire or have signaled they are likely to not run for reelection. These GOP senators are at the point in their careers where history’s judgment might mean more to them than the views of today’s conservative activists.”

He then quoted Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., as saying no Republican senators he knows of seem ready to take such a leap, but “I think most of them are holding their breath.”

Kane then provided a list of possible targets for the Democrat recruiting effort. He said there are 14 Republican senators who have “expressed concerns or questioned Trump’s judgment.” But just four of the 19 Senate Republicans running for reelection next year are on that list.

Who is on the list? Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who has announced he won’t run for reelection; Johnny Isaakson of Georgia, who is battling Parkinson’s Disease and has announced he will resign at the end of this year, and Richard Burr of North Carolina, who is up for reelection in 2022 but has indicated he is not likely to seek another term.

There’s also Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Pat Roberts of Kansas, who came to the Senate together in 1996 and have announced they are leaving. Enzi gave Kane hope with a statement his office released on the day Pelosi announced she was conducting an impeachment inquiry in the House. “He will be a jurist, listen to the evidence, and once all the evidence is in, he will make a final decision,” Enzi’s aide was quoted as saying.

These are the most fruitful targets, Kane wrote, because “If a rebellion happens among GOP senators, it’s most likely to start with a group of these veterans who do not have any short-term political pain to suffer.”

Kane wrote that traditional Republicans pine for Mitt Romney of Utah to lead the fight, but Romney, a rookie in the Senate, “knows there is safety in numbers” and “would only jump into a full civil war against Trump if he had other GOP senators at his side.”

Kane said not to look for Republican senators running for re-election next year to make a stand. “They are in a form of political paralysis that will most likely lead to vague statements sounding critical of Trump, but not quite backing the House’s impeachment or removal from office with a Senate vote.”

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