Democrats have been seeking to impeach President Donald Trump ever since he was elected, and that effort is now poised to soon move to a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, where an acquittal seems all but assured.
But in a recent op-ed for The Hill, former White House official Douglas MacKinnon speculated that the Senate’s trial may actually be a trap set for an unsuspecting Trump. The Hill columnist suggested that establishment Republicans who have never cared much for the president can make use of the opportunity provided by Democrats to rid themselves of Trump once and for all.
The “Swamp” strikes back?
MacKinnon, a communications and political consultant who worked in the Roland Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, echoed in his column the words of advice once offered up by former President Reagan himself: “Trust, but verify.”
To be sure, MacKinnon made clear that he takes a rather dim view of the “political charade” that is taking over Washington over a “fictional quid pro quo” involving Trump and Ukraine — but in this case, the veracity of the impeachment itself is beside the point.
According to the columnist, an impeachment trial in the Senate could serve as a useful vehicle for career politicians — creatures of the “Swamp,” if you will — to exact political retribution against a man who has threatened the status quo.
“President Trump is a disruptor,” MacKinnon quoted former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley as saying in a recent speech. “That makes some people very happy, and it makes some people very mad.”
Setting the trap
MacKinnon based his theory on what he’d heard from “three seasoned Republicans” who he said expressed fears that Trump could be about to walk blindly into a trap set by “seemingly loyal Republican senators,” despite assurances to the contrary from the likes of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
“It’s important for the White House to understand that the weight of history is settling upon the shoulders of these senators — some of them quite weak — and because of that pressure, private conversations are taking place and a trap may be sprung for the president in that trial,” MacKinnon wrote.
He went on to surmise that it isn’t Trump’s known antagonists in the Senate who pose the greatest danger — folks like Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — but rather, “those in the purple states…who have continually criticized and demeaned the president in private.”
In essence, while smiling to Trump’s face and assuring him of an acquittal at trial, there are some in the GOP who are secretly plotting to seize the opportunity to vote to convict Trump, MacKinnon asserts.
An unlikely proposition
It would take a two-thirds majority of the Senate to convict and remove President Trump, according to NBC News, so all 47 Democrats would need to vote to convict, as well as 20 Republicans — a seemingly unlikely occurrence.
That said, as MacKinnon points out, one thing that has become abundantly clear during Trump’s tenure in office is that conventional wisdom can be thrown out the window when The Donald is concerned. However unlikely, the White House would be wise to keep their eyes wide open throughout this process.