UPDATE #2: Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver on MSNBC a short time ago:
UPDATE: The Phil Anschutz-owned Washington Examiner leans in, quoting longtime GOP strategist Mike Murphy warning of immediate danger to vulnerable U.S. Senators like Cory Gardner:
A longtime adviser to Republicans has claimed that if the tally were held in secret, 30 Republican senators would vote to remove President Trump from office.
Mike Murphy, who has worked as a senior adviser to now-Sen. Mitt Romney and the late Sen. John McCain, appeared Wednesday on MSNBC and said that if the Democratic-led House votes to impeach the president and the Senate acquits him, it could spell political damage the Republican Party in 2020.
“These Senate Republicans, should the Democrats vote impeachment — which I think is far more likely than not — are going to be pinned down to a yes-no answer,” Murphy said, “and if they provide cover for Donald Trump on this, a clear violation of his role as president, we’re going to lose Colorado with Cory Gardner. [Pols emphasis] We’re going to lose Maine with Susan Collins. We’re going to lose Arizona with [Martha] McSally. And the Democrats will put the Senate very much in play.”
Politico reports as Trump loyalists try desperately to spin the damage back:
According to an unclassified version of the complaint released by the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning, the unidentified whistleblower said White House officials who listened to the call were “deeply disturbed” by Trump’s requests that Zelensky investigate former vice president and 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden and revisit claims related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election…
The complaint describes concerns among White House officials that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden — and that the call was the culmination of a series of events meant to pressure the new Ukrainian president to bend to Trump’s will, including dispatching Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to lean on Ukrainian officials to probe Biden. [Pols emphasis]
…The whistleblower said about a dozen White House officials were on the president’s July 25 call and that White House officials later intervened to “lock down” records of the call. According to the whistleblower complaint, White House officials were directed by White House lawyers to move electronic transcripts to a more secure electronic system typically meant for classified information.
Rep. Joe Neguse of Boulder, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, appropriately captures the magnitude of this disclosure–underscoring why the White House tried so hard to prevent it:
The whistleblower complaint is beyond damning. A total abuse of the office of the President, and a betrayal of the constitution.
Every American should read it. https://t.co/oB27XZwO4O
— Rep. Joe Neguse (@RepJoeNeguse) September 26, 2019
As we’ve observed from the beginning of this rapidly-developing crisis a week ago, the phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is just one piece, albeit a crucial and particularly damning piece, of the whole impeachable puzzle. The freezing of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine that occurred prior to this call without adequate explanation, then the lifting of that hold in its aftermath, completes the loop of what has every appearance of a shocking abuse of presidential power in order to “motivate” Ukraine to revisit unsubstantiated allegations against Joe Biden’s son ahead of the 2020 elections.
To be sure, this latest scandal does not make any previous allegation against Trump less relevant. But “UkraineGate” could well be enough, even without factoring other events in Trump’s historically chaotic and scandal-plagued presidency, to justify Trump’s removal from office all by itself. We expect the public polling on impeachment to move precipitously in the coming days following this week’s disclosures, and that will be a key determining factor for Republicans in their hard decision whether to cut the President loose.
Because that’s what this is coming down to at long last: how much more damage can Republicans endure before President Mike Pence becomes the only way to stave off total calamity at the polls in 2020? Senate Republicans can save the President. But at what cost to themselves?
It’s math that, among many others, Sen. Cory Gardner is doing in his head right now.