Donald Trump’s longstanding feud with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reached a new level on Thursday after the former president called for the top Senate Republican’s removal from office in an interview.
Asked about the possibility of Republicans defaulting on the national debt in the next Congress — and McConnell’s longtime aversion to the fiscal sinkhole — during an appearance on John Fredericks’ Real America’s Voice radio show on Thursday morning, Trump offered another stern rebuke to the leader of his party in Congress’ upper house, asking that he be removed from office if he continues to make deals with the Biden administration.
“It’s crazy what’s going on with this debt ceiling,” Trump said on the show. “Mitch McConnell continues to allow this to happen. I mean they should impeach Mitch McConnell if he allows it.”
Whoever they are, however, they may find it difficult to do so. Members of Congress, according to the US Constitution, cannot be impeached.
“The United States Constitution does not provide for or authorize the recall of United States officers such as senators, representatives, the president, or the vice president,” says a 2003 report by the Congressional Research Service. “Thus, no member of Congress has ever been recalled in the history of the United States.”
Although Trump is technically incorrect, members of Congress can still be expelled. And it’s much simpler to do than impeachment.
Where an impeachment trial requires conviction in both houses – and can only be applied to members of the executive or judicial branches – members of Congress can be removed from their seats in Congress by a two-thirds vote for serious violations of the rules of their respective chambers. .
And by tough, Congress means tough. In the history of the United States Congress, only a very small fraction of its members have been expelled from their seats, and only for violations ranging from serious corruption or – in the case of 14 of the 15 members who had already been expelled from the Senate of the United States – treason, due to their support of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Since then, evictions have been very rare.
Since the Civil War, no member of the US Senate has been expelled, while only two other members of the House have lost their seats: one, Michael J. Myers, in 1980 after his conviction for conspiracy and corruption in office , and another, James Traficant. , in 2002 after his conviction for conspiracy to bribe, receiving unlawful gratuities, defrauding the government by taking “bribes” from staff, and obstructing justice.
Several other members facing pressure for illegal activities have chosen to resign from office rather than face a vote from their peers in Congress, which has been largely reluctant to appeal to authority to remove members for fear of set a precedent of the ruling party abusing their majority against members they disagree with or dislike.
In a recent vote to censure far-right Republican Representative Paul Gosar for sharing a cartoon video depicting the beheading of fellow Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Democrats for setting a precedent in Congress that “cannot be easily undone.” .”
“Their actions today and in the past have forever changed the way the House works,” he said at the time.
A real leadership revolt is likely to come not from McConnell’s impeachment, but from the appointment of a new Republican leader to the Senate.
While no one has stepped forward to challenge McConnell, some in Washington have speculated Florida Sen. Rick Scott is seeking to lead the party after posting his own version of the party’s platform entering the election cycle. midterms of 2022, drawing criticism from members of his own party.
The two have also regularly criticized each other’s approach to campaign strategy this cycle, with Scott in particular offering his own rebuke to McConnell over his skepticism about the GOP’s chances of taking control of the Senate this cycle. Others, like New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Don Bolduc, have openly expressed that they want new leadership in the US Senate.
But after McConnell’s strong fundraising for battleground Republicans this cycle — and his proven record of whipping votes against a vocal minority faction within his party on issues like Ukrainian aid — the opportunity to remove McConnell from his job is likely dwindling.
“McConnell is the leader,” a Republican with ties to McConnell and Scott told CNN this week when asked about his future. “He has the support of the donors. He has the support of the senators. That’s all.”
Newsweek contacted Trump’s office for comment.