WASHINGTON — Republican senators urged President Donald Trump on Monday to stay clear of divisive impeachment rants in his State of the Union address, suggesting that even the GOP is getting sick of the commander in chief’s Ukrainian conspiracy theories.
With Trump’s all-but-certain acquittal expected Wednesday afternoon, a parade of Republicans in the upper chamber advised the president to instead use his Tuesday night speech to focus on the economy, his Middle East peace plan and the recently signed U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
“When I go home, people are not talking about impeachment,” said Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, adding that he hears about day-to-day life, decrepit roads that need to be rebuilt and fathers who have to go back to work instead of staying with their newborns.
“That’s what they’re concerned about, so I think he needs to speak to the American people about things like that,” Cassidy proposed.
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt struck a less confrontational tone but agreed with Cassidy.
“If I was him, I’d avoid that subject, but I have no idea what he might do,” Blunt told reporters of impeachment. “I think there’s plenty to talk about (instead). It’s an opportunity to move on.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio concurred.
“I just think there’s no way you talk about that and that not be the takeaway, as opposed to some of the other things that I would think he should focus on,” Rubio said.
But if the president’s Twitter feed is any indication, Senate Republicans may be out of luck.
“I hope Republicans & the American people realize that the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax is exactly that, a Hoax,” the president tweeted as his lawyers and the Democratic impeachment managers wrapped up their closing arguments at his Senate trial on Monday. “Nothing will ever satisfy the Do Nothing, Radical Left Dems!”
The White House has declined to say whether Trump will touch on impeachment-related topics in his State of the Union.
In a briefing with reporters Friday, a senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity said it’s “never safe to assume anything” when it comes to Trump.
“So I’m not previewing what the president is going to say,” the official said.
The Republican-controlled Senate is set to acquit Trump on Wednesday of charges that he abused his power by pressuring Ukraine for politically motivated investigations and then obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate in any way with House impeachment investigators probing his alleged misdeeds.
A handful of GOP senators, including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska, have acknowledged they consider Trump’s Ukraine actions inappropriate.
Alexander even conceded Democrats proved their key allegation — that Trump held up $391 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine as leverage for his desired investigations of Joe Biden and debunked right-wing claims about the 2016 election.
Still, not a single Republican is expected to vote to remove Trump from office.
For that reason, Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said it’d be good idea for Trump to avoid impeachment like the plague in his Tuesday night address, as the nation shifts focus to the 2020 presidential election.
“I hope he goes straight to the agenda because that’s the argument,” Braun said. “I think that’s where the election’s going to be won in six to eight swing states.”
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