Will McConnell Do To Trump What Howe Did To Thatcher?

The Senate leader may be contemplating an opportunity to get even. Will McConnell Do To Trump What Howe Did To Thatcher?

The possibility that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might choose in the end to eviscerate Donald Trump instantly put me in mind of an only slightly less dramatic event in British politics — when, in 1990, a man long perceived as a weak and cringing loyalist stood up in the House of Commons and calmly murdered Margaret Thatcher.

Sir Geoffrey Howe was Thatcher’s deputy prime minister and former foreign secretary and chancellor of the exchequer. He and the prime minister had disagreed for years over Thatcher’s hostility to the European Union. Throughout, she blithely ignored his objections and those of other colleagues, letting the public know that she cared nothing for their views.

When she finally told other EU leaders that Britain would never adopt the euro, he resigned, and his resignation speech to Parliament caused a sensation. An exhausted party suddenly turned on Thatcher and within weeks she faced a leadership contest and was out.

Bear in mind, Howe was the unlikeliest Thatcher-destroyer. He’d meekly backed her for years, despite disagreeing with her on the most important questions in British politics. Also, as a speaker, he was impressively limp.

True believers in Thatcher called Tories like Howe “wets” — the British equivalent of RINO — and the term was apt. Howe had never lived down a rebuke from a former Labour chancellor, Denis Healey, whom he’d feebly attempted to wound in a Commons debate: Being attacked by Howe, Healey said, was “like being savaged by a dead sheep.”

Even as Howe took down Thatcher that day, he was inimitably wet, using a cricketing analogy of all things to describe his predicament. Strangely, this rhetorical incapacity only made his denunciation more powerful.

New animal similes quickly sprang to mind. If memory serves, Andrew Marr, my then-colleague at The Economist, wrote a column casting Howe as an aged, bruised and exhausted circus lion, accustomed to taking its trainer’s head harmlessly into its mouth. This time, the feeble old lion bit the head clean off.

We’ll see what McConnell does. Today he rejected a call to allow an emergency session to start an impeachment trial, but he hasn’t said he won’t vote to convict if and when that process moves forward. He seems well-suited for Howe’s role.

After four years of bowing, scraping and grinding his teeth — derided throughout as a groveling Trump enabler — he must be tempted to cast off the lineaments of servitude and take revenge. Set aside the rights and wrongs of his next course of action. (Just as one must set aside, by the way, the fact that Howe was wrong about the euro and Thatcher was right. Details, details.) The thought of McConnell turning on Trump and destroying his master’s political future is much too sweet not to contemplate.

Trump Is Impeached Again, Faces Senate Trial On Capitol Riot

President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House on a single charge of incitement of insurrection for his role in a riot by his supporters that left five dead and the Capitol ransacked, putting an indelible stain on his legacy with only a week left in his term.

Wednesday’s historic 232-197 vote makes Trump the only U.S. president to be impeached twice, a little more than a year since his first. It was supported by all Democrats and 10 Republicans, including Liz Cheney, the third-ranking GOP leader in the House.

“We know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said before the vote. She called Trump “a clear and present danger to this country that we all love.”

Pelosi will now determine how quickly to send the impeachment article to the Senate for a trial. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has rejected Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s plea to agree to bring senators back for an emergency session and start the trial before Jan. 20 when Trump leaves office and President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.

The House speaker signed the impeachment article Wednesday night, but hasn’t indicated whether she’ll delay transmitting it to the Senate.

Trump, in a video released by the White House Wednesday evening, denounced the Capitol attack and called on Americans to avoid further violence. He did not mention the impeachment vote.

He has kept an iron grip on the Republican Party for most of his four years in office. But his stoking of the angry mob of supporters that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 was too much for some in the GOP. Even Republicans who didn’t vote for his impeachment denounced his actions.

McConnell has told associates that he believes that Trump committed an impeachable offense last week when he egged on the protesters, two people familiar with the matter said. In a note Wednesday to his Republican colleague, McConnell wrote, “I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate.”

Trump Impeachment Deepens GOP Divide

Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are taking different stances on punishing the president, and the split is rippling through the party.

The Capitol riot and the impeachment of President Trump have divided the GOP from the top down, with the party’s two congressional leaders, state party officials and longtime donors taking different stances on punishing the president as his term ends.

In the Senate, which must try Mr. Trump after the House’s impeachment vote Wednesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has shown a greater impatience with Mr. Trump than his House counterparts have. Mr. McConnell, who had warned against the president’s drive to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, on Wednesday declined to rule out convicting Mr. Trump.

“I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” Mr. McConnell (R., Ky.) wrote in a message to his colleagues. Rank-and-file senators will start picking sides as early as next week, when the process of setting up a trial begins.

House Republicans largely worked to shield Mr. Trump from formal charges of inciting an insurrection at the Capitol, with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California joining 196 Republicans in voting against impeachment, as 10 Republicans crossed the aisle to join Democrats in favor.

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack by mob rioters,” Mr. McCarthy said on the House floor Wednesday. But he said that voting for impeachment “would further divide this nation, a vote to impeach will further fan the flames, the partisan division.”

Intraparty divisions are showing up in frays over whether to impeach Mr. Trump and how to defend him; over whether Republicans are disqualified from leadership roles if they back impeachment; and even over whether to abide by new regulations to go through magnetometers before entering the House chamber, a restriction imposed to ensure those entering aren’t carrying guns or other prohibited items.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), a leader of Mr. Trump’s defense, said that Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.)— a potential future rival to Mr. McCarthy as the party’s top House leader—was wrong to support impeaching Mr. Trump and that she should step down from her position as the head of the House Republican conference.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she said in response. “Our nation is facing an unprecedented, since the Civil War, constitutional crisis. That’s what we need to be focused on.”

In Arizona, the state Republican Party was readying a vote on whether to censure GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Sen. John McCain, for their perceived lack of fealty to Mr. Trump. In Washington and around the country, several large corporations have said they would stop donating campaign funds to Republicans who backed Mr. Trump’s challenges to the election results.

The stakes are highest in the Senate, which now must decide whether to convict Mr. Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors, potentially triggering a subsequent vote on whether to bar him from serving as president again and in effect sidelining him as a force in the party.

Mr. McConnell’s announcement that he was keeping an open mind followed a New York Times report that he has concluded that Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses and believes that the move to impeach him will make it easier to remove Mr. Trump from the party. Mr. McConnell’s office declined repeated requests to confirm or deny the story. Mr. McConnell hasn’t signaled even to his closest Senate allies how he will vote, Republicans say.

Some Republicans view Mr. McConnell’s moves as a green light to other Republicans that he won’t put barriers in the way of a conviction, opening up the possibility of a stampede away from the president.

“Leader McConnell has been consistently clear-eyed about the attack on the Capitol,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), who has said that he would consider any articles of impeachment. “As I’ve said since before the Capitol was cleared, the president was derelict in his duty and lies have terrible consequences.”

Still, some Republicans are warning that any drive to push Mr. Trump out of the party could have consequences.

“To my Republican colleagues who legitimize this process, you are doing great damage not only to the country, the future of the presidency, but also to the party,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said in a statement on Wednesday. “The millions who have supported President Trump and his agenda should not be demonized because of the despicable actions of a seditious mob.”

A Wall Street Journal survey of more than 20 Republican Senate offices found that only five GOP senators were prepared to totally oppose the proceedings, putting Mr. Trump’s defenders in a rare minority position.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) told Telemundo Wednesday that impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump are “like pouring gasoline on a fire,” and “it threatens to make him a martyr.”

Some 12 Republicans had no response. Of them, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) had told the Des Moines Register earlier this week that even if Mr. Trump weren’t impeached, “there’s very little opportunity for him to lead the Republican Party.”

Republicans who stick with Mr. Trump could face financial consequences, as some donors steer clear of supporting them. That could affect Mr. McCarthy, whose rise in leadership has been fueled by both his allegiance to Mr. Trump and his fundraising prowess. It could also impact Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who chairs the Senate Republican campaign arm and who objected to the certification of Mr. Biden’s election.

Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, dismissed the idea that fundraising would be affected. “We have no interest in engaging with nonsense from D.C. consultants who have no idea what they’re talking about,” he said.

Trump Confronts Political Future With Burden of Historic Rebuke

Donald Trump’s political future suffered a grave blow on Wednesday after the House impeached him for a second time, an unprecedented rebuke that may result in the White House doors being forever shut to him.

Ten Republicans crossed the aisle to join all House Democrats in declaring that Trump deserved removal from office for inciting an insurrection, offering a withering coda to the president’s inglorious fall.

Unable to manage the coronavirus pandemic and persuade voters to return him to the White House, the president instead inspired a violent and conspiracy-fueled attack on the seat of American democracy.

The backlash against Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol has been swift, creating an unprecedented test of the vise-like grip he’s held on his party since his 2016 political ascendance.

The Capitol riot the president helped incite sparked a wave of resignations across the administration, led to the president’s banishment from Twitter, and prompted corporate leaders to suspend donations to Republicans who peddled false allegations of widespread voter fraud.

The Senate now must hold its second impeachment trial of Trump, likely after he’s already left office. A post-presidential conviction could bar Trump from ever seeking federal office again.

While few Republican senators have said where they stand on the matter, the GOP leader, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, left open the possibility he’ll vote to convict in a letter to colleagues on Wednesday.

Regardless of the outcome, the events of the past week have shaken the pillars of American politics and point to a fraught road ahead for the Republican party.

Trump’s impeachment will undoubtedly cement his status as a martyr among his most loyal followers, who have cast the move as the latest effort by Washington to attack and undermine an outsider who threatened the status quo. But several Republicans, including Representatives Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and John Katko, spoke out forcefully against Trump’s actions and voted to impeach.

“This is a vote of conscience,” Cheney said Wednesday. “It’s one where there are different views in our conference. But our nation is facing an unprecedented, since the Civil War, constitutional crisis. That’s what we need to be focused on.”

Some members of the party, though, tried to have it both ways. Loath to defend Trump’s actions, they instead argued that impeachment undermined President-elect Joe Biden’s call for the country to unify in the aftermath of a presidency that has worn the nation thin. Trump was impeached by a 232-197 vote.
‘Tremendous Anger’

Trump, for his part, has maintained the same vaguely threatening posture that helped foment the crisis in the first place. On Tuesday, he blamed the media and Democrats for “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics.”

“I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country and it’s causing tremendous anger,” he said.

He issued a statement Wednesday, as the House debated impeachment, that called for peace.

“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind,” he said. “That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for.”

But the violent riot has tested the loyalty of some of Trump’s longtime enablers and allies. He alienated Mike Pence by tweeting that the vice president “didn’t have the courage” to illegally declare Trump the winner of an election he had lost, further inflaming his supporters before the riot.

Pence, in the Capitol at the time presiding over the congressional count of Electoral College votes, had to flee the mob with other lawmakers.

Several top administration officials canceled international travel or cut trips short this week out of concern that foreign adversaries might seek to exploit the U.S. political crisis and a White House under strain.

Trump’s attention will now turn to minimizing fallout from the impeachment vote on any possible second act in political life, while attempting to paint the consequences for his role instigating the riot as overblown and unfair.

His most immediate concern may be whipping support in the Senate, which needs a two-thirds vote to convict. More than a dozen Republicans would need to join Democrats to remove him from office. While Trump’s electoral loss and subsequent behavior has eroded his standing with many in the party, only one GOP senator — Utah’s Mitt Romney — voted to convict during Trump’s first impeachment trial less than a year ago.

Even out of office, Senate conviction would be more than an embarrassment for the president. He would go down in history as the only president ever impeached and convicted, and senators could subsequently move to disqualify Trump from seeking federal office ever again, a measure requiring only a simple majority vote.

And fighting conviction could prove financially costly to Trump as well. Since he won’t be president, he won’t have a taxpayer-funded White House counsel’s office to defend him.

He already faces mounting financial pressure. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will cancel some $17 million in contracts with the president’s company, Trump Organization, including deals to operate skating rinks and a golf course. Stripe Inc. said earlier this week it would halt payment processing for Trump’s campaign.

And investigators for New York’s attorney general continue to examine Trump’s tax records and whether he broke the law by making hush-money payments to women who claimed he’d had affairs with them before his election.

Impeachment could also mean the loss of pensions for the president and first lady Melania Trump, as well as federal funds for a post-presidential office and staff, though legal opinions are split on the matter.

Trump’s Future

Separately, the president will try desperately to frame the impeachment effort within a broader narrative of persecution and grievance that he’s channeled throughout his presidency.

It worked before, when his approval ratings rebounded in the aftermath of the special counsel investigation into his campaign’s alleged ties with Russia, and after the Senate failed to convict him following his impeachment for pressuring Ukraine to launch an investigation into Biden and his son.

But Trump’s role in the riot — which broke out shortly after he encouraged supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight much harder” against his political opponents — is less complicated. Just 33% of Americans approved of Trump’s handling of his job in a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

And the mob scene at the Capitol only exacerbated perceptions Trump had become politically toxic. Not only was the president unable to win re-election, but GOP control of the Senate evaporated when two incumbent Republicans in Georgia lost despite the president campaigning on their behalf — all before the chaos unfolded in the halls of Congress.

Trump will hope once again to defy expectations by operating outside the mainstream, though his options may prove dwindling. Fringe conservative cable channels have found themselves under threat of legal action for echoing the Trump campaign’s allegations about rigged voting machines, while Cumulus Media told conservative talk radio hosts to stop suggesting the election had been stolen, according to Inside Music Media.

And Trump’s role in the riot cost him his most important megaphone, his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account, now permanently suspended.

Trump has already said he is considering launching his own alternative social media network in the wake of his ban and on Wednesday sought to place his troubles with technology companies within a broader conservative narrative alleging discrimination and persecution.

“They shouldn’t be doing it,” Trump said. “But there’s always a counter move when they do that.”

Insurrection? Sedition? Unpacking The Legal Issues From The Capitol Riot

In the days since President Donald Trump’s supporters ransacked the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths, prosecutors have been talking about potential charges that to many Americans sound arcane, such as sedition and seditious conspiracy. Lawmakers meanwhile voted to impeach the president for something called incitement of insurrection. The unprecedented events that shocked Americans and the rest of the world require some legal unpacking.

1. What Is Incitement Of Insurrection?

The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the president from engaging in insurrection or rebellion against the U.S. Trump spoke before a crowd of supporters Jan. 6, telling them — fallaciously — that he had won the election and that “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He urged them to march to the Capitol where lawmakers were counting electoral votes to ratify Joe Biden as the winner. The crowd did, and stormed the building, overrunning the Capitol police who tried to keep them back, and temporarily halting the vote count. Thus, the House said, Trump violated the 14th Amendment by inciting violence against the government.

2. What’s The Penalty?

If convicted on the impeachment count after a trial by the Senate, he would be removed from office. The Senate may also hold a separate vote on barring Trump from ever running again for federal office, which would require only a majority, as opposed to the two-thirds needed for impeachment.

3. Could Trump Face Criminal Charges?

Inciting others to insurrection or riot is a federal crime, but the Justice Department would have to charge him separately. That’s unlikely, according to Frederick Lawrence, a lecturer at the Georgetown University Law Center. Not only would prosecutors have to prove Trump intentionally whipped up his supporters, Lawrence said, but also that he intended for them to break into the Capitol, loot and cause bodily harm. A further complication is a 1969 Supreme Court precedent that shields inflammatory speech under the First Amendment unless it’s aimed at “imminent” lawless behavior. And there’s the possibility — untested — that Trump could grant himself a pardon before leaving office.

4. What About The Rioters?

Dozens of rioters have already been charged, mostly with misdemeanors such as trespassing that carry a maximum sentence of a year in prison. But Michael Sherwin, Acting U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia, said prosecutors also are looking to charge some with sedition and seditious conspiracy, felonies that could result in 20-year prison sentences. “We look for the most simple charge that we can file as quickly as possible,” Sherwin said. Additional charges can follow, he said, adding that prosecutors have already started to present more significant felony charges to grand juries that can return indictments.

5. So What’s Seditious Conspiracy?

Simply put, sedition is trying to overthrow the government through word or deed. It’s different from treason, which is aiding the enemies of the U.S. The crime of sedition is often brought as seditious conspiracy, which involves two or more people conspiring “to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States.” That was the charge filed against 14 white supremacists in 1987 and against the terrorists behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Protesting is not sedition, but a prosecutor could try to make a case that the rioters who stormed the Capitol to stop the government from working thereby sought to overthrow it, said Richard Kaplan, a criminal defense lawyer with Kaplan Marino in Beverly Hills. “The big question is how organized was this?”

6. What Would They Have To Prove?

Intent is important. Prosecutors will look at communications, social media and texts to try to show that the rioters planned to storm the Capitol and stop Congress from verifying the Electoral College vote, Kaplan said. Many of those charged likely will argue they were caught up in the moment and had no prior intent, Kaplan said. Prosecutors also could try to pressure rioters facing more serious charges, such as bringing guns into the Capitol, to cooperate and testify against possible co-conspirators to avoid a stiff sentence, Lawrence said.

This Time, Trump Impeached Himself

House Republicans didn’t bother to defend the president’s behavior since Election Day, even as most cast votes in his favor.

Donald Trump is now the only president to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. That makes him responsible for half of the presidential impeachments in U.S. history. Just 10 Republicans joined all the House Democrats voting for impeachment on Wednesday, but that’s the largest number of representatives ever to vote to impeach their own party’s president.

In fact, it was worse than that for Trump. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he wanted to censure the president. Three other Republicans released a statement condemning his “words and actions.” Few Republicans who spoke in the House debate joined in condemning Trump’s actions, but few defended him, either. Not many of them spoke at all, and the ones who did spent more time talking about Black Lives Matters protests than about Trump.

Why? To hear most of the Republicans tell it, Trump was just an innocent passive observer to all of the scandals of his administration, including the false charges of election fraud that roiled the country and climaxed in an invasion of the U.S. Capitol by his followers on Jan. 6.

Democrats, they claimed, simply had blind hatred of the president. Indeed, their most frequent argument against impeachment — as it was in 2019 when the House took its first vote to impeach Trump — seemed to be that it was illegitimate because Democrats wanted it too much.

This is nonsense. Democrats had plenty of animus (hatred isn’t too strong a word in many cases) for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and yet neither was impeached by Democratic Houses despite serious scandals.

So what’s the difference with Trump? To some degree, it’s certainly the extent of his lawlessness. Trump was in violation of the emolument clauses of the Constitution from his first day in office in 2017 as he used his Washington hotel and other properties to collect fees from foreign officials.

Soon after that, he fired the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as part of an effort to obstruct an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, as detailed later by the Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump lied about election fraud immediately after winning in 2016 before falsely claiming crimes against him after losing in 2020, and then (as the article of impeachment says) pressuring the responsible officials in several states to commit election fraud on his behalf.

But I don’t think it’s just Trump’s lawbreaking that provoked Democrats to act and convinced some Republicans to go along, others to condemn his actions, staffers to resign in protest, former administration officials to say the president should be removed from office, and numerous Republican former elected officials to agree.

Trump has alienated almost everyone in the political system, just as President Richard Nixon did before resigning as impeachment loomed almost half a century before.

Here’s What The Political Scientist Nelson W. Polsby Said About Nixon Decades Ago:

In [Nixon’s] view, his election conferred not only an extraordinary measure of legitimacy upon him, but also a kind of illegitimacy upon many of the very people with whom a President ordinarily does business: the bureaucrats, interest group leaders, journalists, Congressmen, and party leaders of official Washington … To most of these groups in the course of his Presidency Nixon gave intentional offense, and in each case it was offense of a character that carried with it a clear threat of a very basic kind … Nixon’s policies … consisted of a systematic trampling of his political fences, a direct assertion that the legitimacy of the Presidency entailed the illegitimacy of those other political elites to whom a President normally is accountable.

In other words, Nixon and Trump acted as if they were authoritarian leaders, rather than as one of many legitimate pieces of a constitutional government.

Trump was impeached on Wednesday for specific actions he took from Nov. 3 through Jan. 6, and because many members of Congress fear that he is a danger to the nation. But Trump had also given himself no room for error. He built no relationships with any Democrats, and relatively few with Republicans.

Yes, many Republicans were willing to tolerate him in exchange for his fealty to most orthodox conservative policy goals, and because of the electoral danger of a divided party if they did not go along.

Others, following the strategy honed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of tearing down institutions, seem to have supported him precisely because he was an agent of disruption, chaos and destruction. But a serious working relationship with anyone? Even Nixon had those.

Electoral incentives and partisan polarization will probably save Trump from a quick removal after a hasty Senate trial, and may save him from being convicted by the Senate and disqualified from holding federal office in the future. That won’t become clear until after Joe Biden assumes the presidency on Jan. 20.

But after four years in Washington, Trump leaves without significant friends or allies, and with staff and executive branch officials openly ignoring his orders. He’ll be remembered as a weak, lawless failure.

* For what it’s worth: The 232 votes is the most ever for any article of impeachment, although a much larger percentage of a much smaller House voted to impeach Andrew Johnson. With an asterisk, since Richard Nixon resigned when it was clear he had few supporters remaining from either party.

* That is, several Republicans repeated false claims that Democrats did not condemn violence during the summer protests, and exaggerated the violence that took place last summer.

Trump’s So-Called Friends Slip Away At The Last Minute

This might have been more helpful a year ago, but it can still help now.

Trump’s Circle of Trust Shrinking Rapidly

President Donald Trump’s friends are abandoning him in the closing moments of his presidency, and with a history-making second impeachment looming, which is sort of like if the Titanic’s captain had tried to quit just before it sank. Maybe we’d all be better off if these people had ditched Trump earlier, but they can still do some good.

Maybe most notably, Representative Liz Cheney, of the Wyoming Cheneys, broke with her party and vowed to impeach Trump in paint-peeling terms. It’s a big risk for her, not unlike the one Newt Gingrich took when he shivved President George H.W. Bush over tax cuts, writes Robert George. That ended up working out well for Gingrich. It may not do the same for Cheney.

For the past four years, Corporate America has been quicker to oppose Trump in word and deed. Maybe being relentlessly tweet-bullied hardened its resolve. But last week’s storming of the Capitol hastened business’s slow breakup with the GOP.

The National Association of Manufacturers called for Trump’s ouster. And led by the Chamber of Commerce, several companies have cut off donations to GOP politicians who backed Trump’s election-fraud lies. Hallmark even asked for some of its money back! Hallmark!

One industry dragging its feet on backstabbing the GOP is Big Oil. It has few friends left in this hard, rapidly warming world, Liam Denning writes, so it’s reluctant to betray its nearest and dearest supporters. But Joe Manchin is just standing right there like Duckie, waiting to be Big Oil’s rebound boyfriend.

Even Mitch McConnell is reportedly happy to see Trump impeached, though not quite happy enough to hurry up his trial. He could still whip Republican votes even as the minority leader in the new Senate, and Clive Crook wonders if he’ll do to Trump what Sir Geoffrey Howe did to Margaret Thatcher in 1990: End her era.

That McConnell has soured on Trump shows just how much damage he has done to the nation and to his party, Tim O’Brien writes. Trump does seem vaguely aware he must behave better to avoid real consequences; today he asked supporters not to storm any more capitols if they could avoid it.

But no matter the outcome, you can bet he’ll make sure the blame for his problems falls where it belongs: on his so-called friends.

What Biden Should and Shouldn’t Do

We’re now less than a week from President-elect Joe Biden taking office, believe it or not. He’ll be greeted by two blazing emergencies that should consume all his efforts for a while: the pandemic and its associated recession.

With a Democratic Congress, Biden has precious political capital to get stuff done, but Noah Smith implores him not to make the mistake President Barack Obama did and get sidetracked in less urgent, and less popular, projects such as reforming health care.

Biden will also have to act quickly to repair America’s relationship with the rest of the world, which has been badly damaged by the way Trump treats so-called friends. Bloomberg’s editorial board has some advice for Biden on getting off to a quick, smart start.

These include easy fixes, such as ending Trump’s hopeless trade war and rejoining key international pacts, along with trickier ones, such as confronting, you know, [waves hand at China] China.

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