Trump is seated at a long table in the center and flanked by members of congress including Adam Kinzinger, Cory Gardner, John Shimkus, Will Hurd, Mitt Romney, Chip Roy, Ben Sasse, Fred Upton, Francis Rooney and Lamar Alexander.

AP/Getty Images, Illustration by Zach Meyer

The Friday Cover

Who Will Betray Trump?

Donald Trump knows there are potential traitors in his midst. His presidency could depend on keeping them at bay.

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Tim Alberta is chief political correspondent at Politico Magazine.

From the moment Francis Rooney expressed alarm to his House colleagues that Donald Trump might have abused presidential power in his dealings with Ukraine—and more dramatically, that an impeachment inquiry could be warranted—the Florida Republican was a marked man.

He made for a most unusual suspect. A silver-haired business tycoon, former ambassador and card-carrying member of the GOP establishment, Rooney had reliably played the role of good soldier for the party since easily winning his Naples-area congressional seat in 2016. He had kept his head down. He had dutifully gone about his business as a policymaker and a politician. He had, like so many of his fellow Republicans, muffled his trepidation over the president’s behavior, recognizing that to cross Trump was to commence the extinction of his own political career.

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Venting privately about the president has become a hallowed pastime in Republican-controlled Washington, a sort of ritualistic release for those lawmakers tasked with routinely defending the indefensible, and Rooney had long indulged without consequence. Certainly, his friends noticed, the Florida congressman had grown more animated in private over the past year—railing against the improprieties detailed in the Mueller report, decrying the Trump family’s brazen attempts to enrich themselves off the presidency, wondering aloud what the president needed to do before voters would turn on him. Still, there was no real risk. To the extent GOP leaders heard echoes of Rooney’s discontent, they dismissed it as just another member blowing off steam.

But as summer turned to fall, Rooney wasn’t just bitching and complaining anymore. He was talking about impeachment. And he was talking not in a manner that was abstract or academic, but concrete and ominous. Initially in one-on-one conversations, and then in larger group settings, Rooney cautioned his colleagues that there could be no turning a blind eye to the fact pattern emerging from Trump’s relationship with Ukraine. It seemed possible, if not probable, that congressionally approved military aid to the embattled country—long a cause dear to Democrats and Republicans alike—had been held up contingent on investigations into Trump’s domestic political rivals. The question, Rooney told his friends, was not whether there was clear evidence of wrongdoing, but whether the president himself was culpable—and if so, whether congressional Republicans were going to cover for him.

All of a sudden, the once-invisible congressman was the subject of constant surveillance. Rooney could go nowhere, say nothing, without the eyes of the party on him. House Republican leaders, having been made aware of Rooney’s agitating, deputized lawmakers to monitor the malcontent. The White House—both its political team and its legislative affairs shop—did likewise. Before long, the president himself was briefed on the threat from Rooney. Disturbed, Trump began calling his friends and associates, on Capitol Hill and in Florida, trying to make sense of the situation.

“Who the hell is this Rooney guy?” the president asked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during one phone call, according to sources familiar with their conversation. “What’s his deal?”

All the president’s allies agreed Rooney was a problem. But there was no obvious solution. The congressman had yet to say anything menacing about Trump in public; taking some type of punitive measure against him, be it a closed-door belittling or a presidential tweet-lashing, would be strange and possibly counterproductive. If the overarching goal was to keep Republicans unified in the face of impeachment’s advance—for the sake of immediate political advantage, if not also for the president’s legacy—keeping Rooney close made more sense than alienating him.

Ultimately, Republican leaders in Washington and Florida settled on a simple course of action. They would beat Rooney at his own game, doing nothing to undermine him openly but instead orchestrating a whisper campaign aimed at sowing doubts about his devotion to the president. The focal point would be Florida’s 19th, Rooney’s bloody red district, which Trump had carried by 22 points. That way, if and when Rooney broke ranks, the uprising back home would appear instant and organic. The recoil wouldn’t just scare Rooney straight; it would provide a cautionary tale for any Republican tempted to follow his lead.

Rooney knew the trap was being laid, but he didn’t bother avoiding it. On Friday, October 18, the congressman appeared on CNN and said there was “clear” evidence of a quid pro quo based on acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s own description of events. Asked whether he was ruling out voting for impeachment, Rooney replied, “I don’t think you can rule anything out until you know all the facts.” He also added, “I’m very mindful of the fact that back during Watergate everybody said, ‘Oh, it’s a witch hunt to get Nixon.’ Turns out it wasn’t a witch hunt. It was absolutely correct.”

Rooney’s remarks—in particular, his unsolicited comparison of Trump to Nixon—left his colleagues slack-jawed. House Republicans, having received hair-on-fire emails from staffers alerting them to the comments, tip-toed through the Capitol to avoid reporters asking for comment. Video of the little-known congressman’s interview rocketed around Twitter and turned official Washington on its head for a matter of hours, fueling immediate speculation that a broader revolt might be brewing. Here, at last, was a Republican lawmaker openly entertaining the prospect of impeaching a Republican president.

And sure enough, as though a switch had been flipped, Rooney found himself under siege.

“The blowback from the people in Southwest Florida was something. I mean, I had people down here in the local Republican leadership mad at me, yelling at me, telling me nothing should happen to make me waver in my support of Donald Trump. Nothing,” he recalls in an interview. “Now, I’m pretty immune to pressure. I’ve got a great company, a great family, I’ve done some wonderful things in my life. So, the fact that I got criticized by some local Republican officials doesn’t bother me one bit. But still … ”

Rooney’s voice trails off. The intensity of that criticism—and the threats on his career, made implicit and explicit by Florida Republicans in the hours after his CNN appearance—left him with an inescapable conclusion: There would be no coming back to Congress. He had mulled retirement in the months prior, but now the decision was being made for him. The very next day, appearing on Fox News, Rooney announced he would not seek reelection in 2020.

It hardly could have played better for Trump. The headlines wrote themselves. As Rolling Stone declared, “GOP Congressman Open to Impeachment on Friday, Retires on Saturday.”

The implication was clear: Any Republican who so much as flirted with impeachment would no longer have a home in the party.

Two weeks later, when the House passed a resolution advancing the impeachment inquiry, all 196 of the House Republicans on the floor voted as a bloc against the measure. It was a display of solidarity and a reassertion of supremacy; once again, everyone in the party had fallen in line behind Trump. To the president’s delight, as he watched the proceedings on television, the “nays” even included the troublemaker Rooney, who, Trump concluded, had tucked his tail between his legs and done as he was told. Trump basked in the sensation. That the House had moved closer toward a historic and humiliating referendum on his presidency was less important than the GOP rallying uniformly in his defense. There would be no more talk of dissension. Whatever rebellious spark Rooney once embodied had been decisively extinguished.

Or so the president hoped.

In fact, Rooney says now, his vote was in disapproval of the Democrats’ process—not a display of confidence in Trump’s innocence. “That was just a procedural vote,” the congressman says, explaining that he studied the House rules that governed Bill Clinton’s impeachment and was prepared to vote for similar guidelines had Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought them to the floor this time around. “I’m not going to show my hand on impeachment until we get all the facts out there.”

Rooney insists he’s not alone. It was only after he spoke candidly on CNN, he says, that other members began confiding in him that they, too, were losing confidence in their defense of the president. “There are a lot of Republicans who feel varying levels of disquiet at the idea of using American foreign policy power to gin up domestic political investigations,” Rooney says.

Of course, the yawning delta between what Republicans feel privately and what they say publicly has been a defining theme of the Trump era. Whether any of those lawmakers suddenly find the courage to defy him on a legacy-shaping vote will go a long way toward shaping history’s view of Trump’s presidency, his impeachment, and his stewardship of the Republican Party.

From dozens of interviews with GOP lawmakers, congressional aides and White House staffers over the past month, it’s evident that Rooney is right: There is a sizable number of Republican senators and representatives who believe Trump’s actions are at least theoretically impeachable, who believe a thorough fact-finding mission is necessary, who believe his removal from office is not an altogether radical idea.

But it’s also evident that, barring a plain admission of guilt by the president himself—think Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men—the Republican Party will not be forsaking Trump. He could lose a stray vote in the House, maybe even two, when articles of impeachment come to the floor. He could fare even worse in the Senate, knowing that more than a few of the 53 Republican jurors might be tempted etch their names in the history books at his expense. None of this will alter his standing atop the party; none of this will change the fact that he is president through January 2021 and perhaps beyond.

And yet, Trump cannot stand to be embarrassed—and there is no greater embarrassment to a president than being impeached, much less with the abetting of his own tribe. There is an urgency, then, not only to limit defections but eliminate them. The administration, working in concert with its allies on Capitol Hill, has been hard at work identifying potential turncoats in the party and monitoring their activities to catch any sign of slippage. Believing that a unified party-line vote is needed in the House to prevent any narrative of Republicans abandoning Trump when action moves to the Senate, the president’s allies are determined to stay one step ahead of any lawmaker who might be going soft, gaming out scenarios for who could desert and why.

It amounts to a preemptive game of political whodunit, with Trump’s enforcers seeking to solve a mystery of political betrayal before it occurs. Naturally, there is no bigger fan of this game than the president himself.


To understand Trump’s fixation on the word loyalty is to understand that his interpretation, at least in a political context, means submission, subservience, subjugation.

Having conquered the GOP with a scorched-earth primary campaign—wrecking the Bush dynasty, pillaging the party’s establishment wing, refashioning the American right in his own image—Trump continues to demand the party’s complete and total devotion to him. It began after he won the Indiana primary in May 2016, eliminating Ted Cruz and John Kasich and becoming the presumptive nominee, only to be dumbfounded at hearing Paul Ryan, then the House speaker, declaring that he wasn’t ready to support the party’s new standard bearer. To Trump, who long possessed a sort of medieval, winner-take-all understanding of business and life, it had never occurred to him that this was a possibility. He was the victor; he deserved the spoils, starting with the allegiance of the subjects he now ruled.

Every day since, Trump has been preoccupied with questions of treachery within his newfound tribe. When we sat for an interview early this year for my book, American Carnage, the president returned time and again to this notion of fidelity. Because he had returned the GOP to power, Trump intimated, allowing Republicans to claim victories on all matter of policy and personnel, they owed him their unwavering support.

“The Republican Party was in big trouble,” Trump told me. “I brought the party back. The Republican Party is strong. The Republican Party is strong.” He then added, “They’ve got to remain faithful. And loyal.”

People around the president say he seldom grows agitated at the conduct of Pelosi, or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, or House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, the Democrats he most enjoys lampooning on Twitter. They are the opposition party, and because Trump holds a symmetrical view of politics, he expects (and often embraces) their antagonism. It’s an entirely different story when it comes to intraparty dissent.

Rarely does the president become more wrathful, his allies say, than when he learns of a Republican criticizing him, particularly if done in a public setting. And even when he hears of an internecine attack launched behind closed doors, Trump has been known to fly into a rage, calling people who were in the room to grill them for details on the alleged act of duplicity. On more than one occasion, after receiving reports of unflattering talk by his fellow Republicans, the president has resorted to blasting out angry, cryptic tweets hinting at a possible betrayal.

“The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats,” he tweeted on October 23. “Watch out for them, they are human scum!”

The president didn’t call out anyone by name. But at the time, Republicans widely interpreted the missive to be the continuation of a recent campaign against Mitt Romney, the Utah senator and Trump’s longtime nemesis. In the weeks preceding the tweet, Romney had resumed his role as Trump’s chief Republican tormentor, calling his interactions with Ukraine “wrong and appalling,” while separately skewering the president for his abandoning the Kurds in Syria. (It was also revealed, after reporting in The Atlantic and Slate, that Romney maintained a burner Twitter account from which he promoted anti-Trump commentary.) In return, the president unleashed a furious tweetstorm, calling Romney “a pompous ‘ass’” and suggesting he should be impeached. Never mind that senators are not subject to impeachment under the Constitution—Trump was livid, and he was lashing out.

Given the history of hostilities between them, and Romney’s obvious belief that Trump has abused his power and used the office of the presidency for his personal gain, it’s easy to understand why the junior senator from Utah is universally viewed as the likeliest Republican apostate on the question of impeachment, in either chamber.

What’s harder to understand is why Trump would choose to deploy the phrase “human scum!” in describing disloyal Republicans—a rhetorical eyebrow-raiser, even for him—without making clear to whom he was referring or what specifically was provoking his fury.

Parsing the president’s tweets can be a fool’s errand. But considering the historic nature of the converging events of late October—the Ukraine quid pro quo, the forsaking of the Kurds, the decision (later reversed) to host the G-7 at Trump’s luxury golf resort in Florida—and the unprecedented outcry heard among Republicans, the “human scum!” outburst provides a valuable window into a presidency in crisis. That Trump was not singling out Romney, the president’s team began to sense, reflected a pair of interrelated realities: first, that the Utah senator was a lost cause; and second, that Trump suddenly had other senators to worry about.

It’s doubtful that any American, whether Trump’s biggest fan or his boldest critic, is going to have their perceptions swayed by a single Republican senator voting to remove the president from office—particularly if that senator is Romney. But what about two Republican senators? Or three? Or five?

Nobody on Capitol Hill believes the number of GOP mutineers could even remotely approach the 20 needed to convict Trump in a Senate trial. All the same, there is a recognition among the president’s allies that his reelection campaign, not to mention his place in history, could be crippled by even the smallest clique of Republicans banding together and issuing what would be an institution-defining rebuke. What would be especially damning, they know, is if those converts aren’t easily explained away as fair-weather friends like Romney.

Oh, it wouldn’t shock anyone if Susan Collins, the centrist from Maine, turned on Trump once and for all. She has never thought highly of the president. She has exhausted the polite ways in which to articulate her belief that he is unfit for office. She, like Romney, called Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president “appalling.”

Nor would it surprise Republicans if Lisa Murkowski, the other quasi-independent in the GOP caucus, turned on Trump. The Alaska senator has been a chronic problem for the White House. Whether it was her vote against the GOP’s Obamacare repeal proposal, or her persistent abuse of the administration for its handling of a 35-day government shutdown, or her go-it-alone refusal to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Murkowski has shown a unique capacity for afflicting the president.

In late October, it was those three GOP senators—Romney, Collins and Murkowski—who conspicuously refused to co-sponsor Lindsey Graham’s resolution condemning the House of Representatives for its impeachment inquiry. So, sure, any one of those three voting to remove Trump from office would come as less than a revelation. Heck, all three voting to remove Trump from office might not move the needle much in political circles.

Then again, three is more than zero. And what if it’s more?

What if Lamar Alexander, the retiring statesman from Tennessee who has struggled to mask his disillusionment with Trump’s destruction of norms, decides to go out with a bang?

What if Cory Gardner, whose reelection in Colorado seems destined to be doomed by the top of the ticket, thinks his next act in politics depends on establishing distance from Trump?

What if Ben Sasse or Pat Toomey or Rob Portman, all thoughtful conservatives in the Burkean tradition, reach a point where they feel compelled to meet a moment on behalf of their party and their country and perhaps even their constituents, as upset as many of them might be?

None of this might seem realistic. Yet these are precisely the scenarios being bandied about by the president’s team—and on occasion, by Trump himself. According to multiple people who have been consulted by the president on the impeachment endgame, it’s not far-fetched to imagine as many as five Republican senators ultimately taking the leap together. This is because there’s a near-certain foundation of one with Romney, and a plausible foundation of three with Romney, Collins and Murkowski. Two or three more isn’t impossible to imagine; there is reassurance in numbers, a knowledge among some potential combination of defecting senators that they won’t be out on a limb by themselves. (None of the senators in question have commented with any real clarity on the impeachment proceedings, preferring for now to cloak their silence in the explanation that they will soon be jurors in America’s most important trial.)

The good news for Trump is that there’s no Romney-esque Republican in the House GOP—no stalwart, no ringleader, no reliable fly in the ointment.

The bad news? It makes his team’s sleuthing all the more difficult.


The Democratic takeover of the House in November 2018 set in motion two equal and opposite outcomes that grow likelier by the day. The first is that Trump will be impeached. The second is that House Republicans will be united in opposition.

It’s never ideal for a party to lose control of Congress—particularly not in a hyperpartisan, zero-sum atmosphere where gridlock is guaranteed. But for Trump, the silver lining of the GOP’s drubbing in 2018 was a party, purged of many of its gadflies, that emerged looking and sounding a lot more like him. This was true in the Senate, where the president shed the baggage of Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, but even more so in the House, where, as former Congressman Mark Sanford says, “the conference got a whole lot Trumpier.”

Sanford would know. Having established himself as one of the president’s harshest intraparty critics, the arch-conservative lawmaker lost his primary to a Trump-backed challenger who ran on a platform of fealty to the president. (She then lost the general election, fumbling away a reliably red district to the Democrats.) Given his unwillingness to reflexively defend Trump, Sanford would have been a ripe target for the Democratic majority to pick off were he still in Congress.

The same could be said for any number of Trump-allergic Republicans who lost their seats in general election last fall: Carlos Curbelo, Mike Coffman, Mia Love, Erik Paulsen, Barbara Comstock. And that’s not counting the GOP lawmakers, such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who simply retired rather than serving another two years under Trump.

What the House GOP was left with, entering 2019, was a smaller, more demographically homogeneous and ideologically concentrated membership. There was no longer a list of mischief-makers for the White House to track. In reality, there was one remaining voice of consistent dissent: Justin Amash. When the Michigan Republican announced his decision to leave the GOP on July 4, declaring his “independence” from Trump’s party, the president and congressional leaders celebrated. His takeover of the House GOP was all but complete.

By contrast, when Texas Congressman Will Hurd announced his retirement a few weeks later, there was cause for concern in Trump’s orbit. The GOP’s poster boy for pragmatism and objectivity, Hurd had been strategically selective in censuring the president—but when he had, it was done with devastating effect. With Hurd no longer constrained by the considerations of running for reelection on the same ticket as Trump, the White House feared, he might feel liberated to step out on impeachment. The congressman has been under the administration’s microscope ever since, his public statements and private interactions parsed for clues.

In an interview, Hurd, a former CIA officer who sits on the Intelligence Committee, does not sound like a man ready to impeach the president. “This is not voting someone off the island in Season 12 of 'Survivor,’” he says. “It’s a serious issue and it’s going to set precedent for the future.”

Noting how Trump can be impetuous and indelicate, Hurd stresses nonetheless that every elected official’s threshold for impeachment will vary. “For me, impeachment is a clear violation of the law,” he says. “And I haven’t seen anything—yet—that looks like a clear violation of the law.”

This could prove to be Trump’s salvation. Even among those Republicans not predisposed to defending him, there is the silhouette of an emerging consensus: That the president’s dealings with Ukraine were foolish, unbecoming and unfortunate—but not impeachable.

Even Sanford admits that if he were still a voting member, he wouldn’t be ready to support impeachment. “I think there’s a very weighty, complex judgment to be made here,” he says. “I object to this president on a variety of levels. But I would still say another shoe has to drop.” Sanford pauses. “Then again, this is a guy who said he could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and get away with it, and he was pretty clairvoyant on that front. So, I don’t know what that shoe would have to look like.”

Amash, who voted for the House inquiry to proceed, is wrestling with that same question. “I think we’ve seen plenty of evidence that the president is abusing his power, abusing the office of the presidency,” he says. The independent congressman understands that his former GOP comrades disagree, or at least say they disagree, with him on that front. What he wonders is what, if anything, could change their minds; whether even a smoking cannon of misconduct linked directly to Trump could convince them of their responsibility to impeach.

Just as we sit discussing this mystery inside Amash’s congressional office, the nearby television flickers to life with a CNN breaking news bulletin: “White House admits to quid pro quo with Ukraine.” A short while earlier, Mulvaney—one of Amash’s closest friends during their time together on Capitol Hill—had taken to the White House press podium to declare, among other things, that Ukraine’s military funding had indeed been held up at Trump’s behest and that people should “get over it.”

Amash shakes his head. “I mean, I’ve known Mick for a long time, but I don’t really know what his life is like at this point, and what he’s thinking, and how much just being in that world warps your view of things,” he says. “The administration’s approach with a lot of things is to put out really bad information and then pretend like it’s not bad. It’s sort of a different way of covering up. It’s gaslighting—just put out the bad stuff and then tell everyone it’s not bad, and that you’re shocked that anyone would think it’s bad. ... Trump understands that. He’s figured out that he can say and do pretty much anything and people will cover for him.”

Both Sanford and Amash, once integral players inside the conservative House Freedom Caucus, say that if the roles were reversed—if Barack Obama were asking foreign nations to investigate Mitt and Tagg Romney—that Jim Jordan, the group’s founding chairman, would be leading the charge toward impeaching the Democratic president.

“Oh, no doubt,” Sanford laughs.

“100 percent,” Amash says.

With Sanford and Amash exiled, and Trump’s alliance with the House Freedom Caucus strong and symbiotic, it’s unclear whether even a single member of the organization—one founded on the order of principles over party—will consider a vote for impeachment. Jordan and Mark Meadows, his wingman and Trump’s soothsayer on the right, have so thoroughly transformed the identity of the group from feverishly independent to ferociously partisan that it’s difficult to imagine any of their lieutenants stepping outside of what’s become a Trump-topped chain of command.

There is, however, one conservative who continues to be monitored closely: Chip Roy.

A former federal prosecutor who made a name for himself in Washington as Ted Cruz’s original Senate chief of staff, Roy is a true believer who was sharply critical of Trump throughout 2016. When Roy decided to run for Congress in 2018, in fact, he was reminded to scrub his social media of attacks on the president. With so many of his Freedom Caucus colleagues springing to the president’s defense in recent months, Roy’s silence has been a subject of growing concern. Although the freshman congressman hasn’t indicated that he’s prepared to impeach Trump, he hasn’t soothed anxieties by ruling it out, either.

In an interview, Roy tells me he has yet to see evidence supporting a case for Trump’s impeachment. That said, he is clearly uncomfortable with the reflexive attempts by his colleague to insulate Trump at every turn, often resulting in sloppy and self-contradicting arguments.

“I have not associated myself with any of the defenses of my colleagues on this issue, because I’m going to make my own assessment and frame it however the facts present themselves,” he says. “I’ve got my own views on this, and I don’t necessarily believe the arguments I’ve heard to date have been the best arguments, because people are just firing on the fly without thinking it through.”

Roy acknowledges his reluctance to speak on the matter. He explains that he has been marking up hundreds of pages of documents and building a prosecutor’s case file from which to draw his ultimate conclusions. Unlike some of his colleagues, Roy says, he sees “a line” that needs to be enforced as a matter of precedent. It’s just that Trump, from everything he’s gathered thus far, has not crossed it.

The president’s allies have long believed his greatest threat from within the Republican Party comes from the middle; that given the cultish devotion he enjoys on the right, a moderate with lukewarm constituents could get away with defying him before a conservative with MAGA-clad constituents could. This thinking had led Trump and his team to keep a close eye on certain individuals, such as Adam Kinzinger and John Shimkus and Fred Upton, who fit the description of the centrist, traditional, Bush-friendly Republican who have been known to voice their displeasure with the president. And indeed, both Kinzinger and Shimkus leaped off the radar in recent weeks due to their broadsides against Trump. But their invective had more to do with abandoning the Kurds than pressuring the Ukrainians.

While these sorts of members are still considered a risk—Kinzinger in particular—there is more confidence among Trump’s allies today in holding the line than there was a month ago. The reason: Emotions were running hotter at that point. If disgruntled Republicans didn’t sign up for impeachment amid the swirl of betraying the Kurds, admitting a Ukrainian quid pro quo, soliciting China’s help investigating the Bidens and self-dealing to the Trump family on a scale of many millions of dollars, well, it’s tough to imagine them finding reason to do so now.

On top of all this, when factoring in complaints about Pelosi and Schiff’s process—a universal point of grievance inside the GOP, as expressed by even the most rational and respected House Republicans—it’s simply unimaginable, barring a cataclysmic development, that anyone would suddenly jump ship when articles of impeachment come to the House floor.

“If you serve 20 years in the House, this might be the most consequential vote you’ll ever cast. And normally, given the nature of that vote, members have to treat it delicately and thoughtfully,” says Patrick McHenry, who served in previous Congresses as the House GOP’s chief deputy whip. “But with how the Democrats have approached this, it no longer feels like a conscience vote. It feels like a purely partisan knife fight.”

McHenry, renowned for his read on the instincts of his fellow House Republicans, predicted that not a single one will vote for impeachment.

Amash made the same prediction. So did Hurd. And Roy. And every other House Republican lawmaker interviewed for this story, including those who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Even Rooney, the retiring Florida Republican who remains on a political island all his own, admitted he doesn’t expect a single Republican defection in the House. That is, of course, unless he takes it upon himself.

“The whole thing is one step removed from the president—it’s [Rudy] Giuliani, it’s [Gordon] Sondland,” Rooney says, referring to the president’s lawyer and EU ambassador, who stand accused of orchestrating a shadow foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens.

“So, the question is, is that enough of an abuse of power to remove the president from office? I don’t know. I need to think about that a lot more. I haven’t made up my mind.”

He adds, “I’ve got to be able to look at myself in the mirror, and I’ve got to be able to look at my kids and my friends and family, and know that what I did was right.”

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