Two Women to Watch as GOP Processes Trump Investigation By Luke Perry and Paul Joyce
Donald Trump has never been completely embraced by the GOP. Now that impeachment has been raised by Republican members of Congress, those who didn’t support him during the nomination process become particularly noteworthy in trying to evaluate whether or not Republicans would potentially vote for this.
The House has the authority to impeach, while the Senate has the power to remove the president from office. Only two presidents have been impeached, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Neither were removed from office by the Senate. If an impeachment process occurs, the voting dynamics in each chamber become particularly important.
10 sitting GOP Senators did not support Donald Trump during the campaign. We focus on two of them here: Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). GOP Senate leadership recently faced criticism for having no women appointed to the working group formulating the Republican healthcare reform bill. These two women could play a pivotal role in Trump’s political future. Both voted against confirming Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, making her the first Cabinet nominee to be confirmed through a tie breaking vote from the Vice-President.
Senator Collins explained why she couldn’t vote for Trump in a Washington Post Op-Ed last August. Trump did not represent “historical Republican values,” wasn’t the person to “heal divisions” in the country, and lacks the “temperament, self-discipline, and judgement” to be president. Senator Murkowski's relevant statement explained Trump has “not only objectified women,” but “bragged about preying upon them,” and “forfeited the right to be our party’s nominee” and “must step aside.”
Both Senators recently expressed concerns about the firing of James Comey. Murkowski released the following statement : “Whether or not you are a supporter of Mr. James Comey’s actions as FBI Director, the timing of his firing – in the middle of an investigation into Russia’s interference in our election – is serious cause for concern. The President cited that one of his reasons for firing Comey as FBI Director was that he had lost the public’s trust and was unable to carry out the duties needed for the job. It is now our job to restore that trust.” A week later, Murkowski called for a special prosecutor or an independent commission to investigate the situation.
The statement made by Collins following Comey’s dismissal was less critical of Trump and more critical of Comey. Collins observed that the president fired the FBI director, not the FBI. Beliefs that the firing constituted an effort to stop investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election were “misplaced.”
Collins subsequently echoed Murkowski’s sentiments for a special prosecutor, stating that Comey should come forward and testify about his actions, including his meetings with President Trump and relevant memos he drafted. “Only Director Comey can give us the context that we need.”
Past suggestions from Senate Republicans that Trump is unfit to be president may resurface in the weeks to come with a special criminal investigation underway and Comey potentially testifying as early as next week. Trump's critics in the Senate, including Senators Collins and Murkowski, are more likely than their colleagues to perhaps urge Trump to step aside, again.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Professor of Government at Utica College. His column Sound Off! critiques various aspects of American politics.
Paul Joyce is an MPA Candidate at the University of Albany.