Could Dems defect in Trump impeachment trial? McConnell sees opening

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., are believed to be possible votes to acquit the president in an impeachment trial. (AP/Reuters)

Other Democratic senators believed to be in play are Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Trump carried both states in 2016.

Sinema is the first Democrat elected to represent the typically red-leaning state in the Senate since 1995. Sinema has not signaled publicly which way she would vote on impeachment.

Peters recently told local journalists that, "It’s important to collect all of the facts regarding the situation, and certainly what facts are out there are very troublesome."

“Those four Democrats are damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” a senior GOP aide told Fox News, referring to Manchin, Jones, Peters and Sinema. “They will have to resist the Trump derangement syndrome that is consuming their Democrat colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are making the case that Republicans could join them in a vote to convict Trump. Those most often mentioned as possibilities are Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has not shied from criticizing Trump; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who sometimes crosses party lines in votes.

But Republican sources told Fox News that none of those lawmakers have signaled any movement on the final Senate vote on whether to remove the president from office, and McConnell has said it has been his goal from the beginning to keep Republicans together on the issue.

The source also told Fox News that a recent letter penned by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., laying out his proposed parameters for what a Senate impeachment trial would look like and which witnesses should be included did not move the needle one way or the other for Republicans whose votes could be wavering.

“My hope is that there won’t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles in the House,” McConnell told “Hannity,” while also saying that the impeachment case is “so darn weak” and that the outcome is easy to predict.

“There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office,” McConnell said last week, noting that he has “no choice but to take it up” but the trial would be “in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president.”

At the center of the impeachment inquiry is Trump’s efforts to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch politically related investigations—regarding former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings in Ukraine, as well as issues related to the 2016 presidential election. The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats have argued shows a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against Trump, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, on a party-line vote of 23-17. A final roll call in the full House is expected Wednesday.

A massive impeachment report issued this past weekend by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., stated: "This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election, as well as President Trump’s other actions, present a clear and present danger that the President will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain."

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