Trump rewards GOP senators with campaign support for defending him on impeachment


Trump is raising money for senators from Colorado, Iowa, and North Carolina, months before a possible impeachment trial.

Donald Trump is showering potential jurors with campaign cash ahead of a possible Senate impeachment trial.

As Politico reported on Wednesday, Trump is "rewarding senators who have his back on impeachment" by sending out a fundraising email to benefit "a handful of loyal senators facing tough reelection bids in 2020." The  email raised money for Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

All three senators joined a senate resolution led by Sen. Lindsey Graham condemning the House impeachment inquiry.

If the House impeaches Trump for allegations of abuse of power by asking Ukraine to investigate his political opponents, obstruction of Congress, or any other charge that could be uncovered in the impeachment inquiry, then all senators would be jurors in a Senate impeachment trial. Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over the trial.

Trump isn't just offering lawmakers potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars, he's also shown he's willing to stick by those loyal to him in other ways.

Tillis has been one of Trump's most ardent supporters in the Senate, standing by Trump as he siphoned $80 million from military bases in Tillis' home state of North Carolina to pay for a border wall thousands of miles away. More recently, Tillis blasted the House impeachment inquiry as "a waste of resources," claiming Trump's call to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden doesn't "rise to the level of any kind of impeachment inquiry or impeachment."

Trump has trekked to North Carolina numerous times for campaign rallies and given his wholehearted endorsement to Tillis. During a July rally Trump praised Tillis, calling him "a warrior, really a warrior, when we needed him most," and adding, "Make sure he gets reelected." Tillis used the footage in a campaign ad.

Trump was back in North Carolina again in September for a rally supporting a Republican congressional candidate, and Tillis was there as well. As far back as June, Trump tweeted out his endorsement of Tillis.

In Colorado, Gardner has already pledged his fealty to Trump, endorsing his 2020 campaign all the way back in January.

Trump responded by thanking Gardner "for the early and warm endorsement."

When asked in mid-October about the underlying issue in the impeachment inquiry — whether or not it is OK for a president to ask foreign leaders to investigate political rivals — Gardner repeatedly refused to condemn such behavior.

Gardner also voted previously to support Trump's national emergency declaration at the border and to allow the Defense Department to take millions from Colorado military bases to build a border wall. Trump for his part, responded to that vote by tweeting that Gardner had "done a fantastic job representing the people of Colorado" and "really knows how to win."

One of the three senators highlighted in Trump's fundraising email this week, Ernst, has raised considerably less money in the last three months than her likely Democratic opponent, Theresa Greenfield. However, Ernst has shown her loyalty to Trump by sticking by his immigration policies that ripped families apart and supporting Trump's trade war with China even as Iowa farmers were suffering. And on impeachment, Ernst followed Gardner's lead, refusing to condemn Trump's request that Ukraine investigate Biden.

In addition to helping Ernst with badly needed campaign cash, Trump has praised Ernst for her support on a recent spending bill.

While Ernst, Gardner, and Tillis will financially benefit from Trump's attentions, Trump has notably snubbed a couple of other vulnerable senators.

According to Politico, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is not on the fundraising list because she would not join other senators on a resolution condemning the House impeachment process. And Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who is falling way behind her likely Democratic opponent, Mark Kelly, in fundraising, is being snubbed for her refusal to use WinRed, the RNC's preferred online fundraising tool.

With fundraising and campaign support for several embattled senators, Politico stated Trump is trying to "buck up" vulnerable Republicans as the House impeachment investigation moves into high gear.

After receiving campaign cash from Trump, those same senators could turn around and be on a jury tasked with convicting or acquitting Trump on potential impeachment charges.

The tactic, however, drew some scrutiny.

"Senators who were adamant about not prejudging the evidence against Trump because they'll be jurors need to avoid taking money he steers their way for the same reason," Joyce Alene, a University of Alabama law professor, wrote.

"Unless it’s now OK to paying off jurors, too," Alene added.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.