In a column for Bloomberg, political analyst Jonathan Bernstein stated there are other options for Senate Republicans to rein in Donald Trump short of impeachment, but they will likely do nothing and the president will be even more uncontrollable going forward.
With the GOP-controlled Senate likely to acquit the president this week along party lines, Bernstein claimed that the lawmakers could help themselves with some on-the-fence voters by admonishing Trump short of booting him from office.
"Some Senate Republicans, either looking for a middle ground or perhaps troubled by what President Donald Trump will do after his impeachment trial ends, are coalescing around an interesting idea. As Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander said Sunday, 'I would think he would think twice before he did it again,'" he wrote.
He then added, "There are plenty of ways to get the job done. To begin with, we’re about to reach the point in the trial in which senators have the opportunity to speak inside the chamber about their upcoming votes to remove or acquit. I expect most Republican Senators to use their statements to smear former Vice President Joe Biden and complain about House Democrats. But if they think that Trump did something wrong, they could use the opportunity to clearly explain what was wrong about his actions, and why he shouldn’t continue them even if (in their view) removal is not the appropriate remedy at this point. After that, they could even formally censure the president."
Bernstein also suggested that Republicans attempt to force the president to hire better White House staff and handlers who could attempt to keep him from following his worst instincts or, more importantly, doing anything that even hints at illegality.
"Insist that Trump hire a professional White House chief of staff. Yes, Trump was never going to actually act in a way that, until January 2017, we thought of as 'presidential,'" he wrote. "But the presidency was considerably better run in the first few months that John Kelly served as chief of staff. Senate Republicans could now insist that if Trump wants to keep their loyalty, he’ll try having a real chief of staff again and he’ll choose from among candidates who Senate Republicans would respect."
Having written all that, the columnist conceded that Republicans are more likely to throw in the towel rather than buck the president who has shown little interest in following presidential norms and likely will feel free to do as he pleases after surviving ouster.
"The most likely outcome of the impeachment trial will be that congressional Republicans are even less likely to confront Trump on his behavior, at least as long as it doesn’t threaten their policy preferences," he predicted. "And this will have the consequence of making those Republicans who do believe Trump did something wrong even less important within the party. Instead, it will further empower Fox News, the House Freedom Caucus, and others on the right who act with disdain for constitutional government."
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