The chances of the Senate convicting former President Donald Trump may not be good, but they’re better than they were during his last impeachment trial, according to Norm Eisen, who served as counsel to the Democrats in Trump’s first impeachment.
“It is a very steep hill to climb to get the additional Republicans, and I don’t know that you’ll hold onto all six who voted yesterday,” he said in a POLITICO Playbook Live interview. “But it is six times more than the number of Republican aisle-crossers that we persuaded in the previous impeachment.”
Eisen cast himself as a “congenial optimist,” but said that the chances are also better because more Americans side with conviction in this trial.
“It’s by far the most bipartisan impeachment in American history,” he said.
So far, just six GOP senators appear to be even considering convicting Trump of inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, far short of the 17 Republican votes House managers likely need for a conviction.
However, Sen. Bill Cassidy’s (R-La.) decision on Tuesday to vote that the impeachment trial against Trump is constitutional came as a surprise and showed that some Republicans may still be making up their minds.
Eisen said on Wednesday that polling shows bipartisan approval for Trump’s conviction across the United States.
“We just had 47 percent of Americans who agreed with us that Trump should be convicted at the beginning of the prior impeachment trial. This one, you start with 56-57 percent of Americans — 20 percent of Republicans.”
Eisen said Trump’s attorneys, who are, in his words, offering up “total legal and factual garbage,” will put more pressure on senators to potentially vote to convict.
Bruce Castor Jr. and David Schoen, who are defending Trump in his second impeachment, have been widely criticized for their lackluster presentation Tuesday — including by Republican senators.
“Now, it’s not just Trump who’s on trial,” he said. “After yesterday, the Senate is on trial.”
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