Nearly one-third of the Republicans serving on the House Judiciary committee will depart at the end of their present term.
Now controlled by the majority party, the Judiciary committee fulfills a singularly important role. It is the lever that moves Articles of Impeachment from the committee to the House Floor, beginning a potential Senate trial.
Today, Rep. Trey Gowdy became the eighth GOP member of the Judiciary to declare his resignation. Not only will he abandon his 2018 reelection effort, Gowdy plans to leave politics entirely.
With speculation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will conclude his investigation before the Midterms, sometime this summer, a glaring question arises.
First, let’s assume Mueller brings forth evidence that qualifies for impeachment.
How might the last-term Judiciary members vote?
Will these departing Representatives feel released to vote their conscience? Or conversely, will they be hellbent on defending Trump at all costs?
Those leaving include Gowdy, committee chair Bob Goodlatte (VA), Darrell Issa (CA), Lamar Smith (WI), Ted Poe (TX) and Blake Farenthold (TX), who each have announced their retirement.
Ron DeSantis is running for Florida governor, leaving his seat empty. Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador is making the same move, filing as a candidate for his state’s governor’s race. Both could suffer with a Yes vote in their gubernatorial races.
Ken Buck may add his name to the list of departing members. One of the founders of the Freedom Caucus, he expressed serious interest in the Colorado Attorney General’s job should its current occupant run for governor. Cynthia Coffman did just that, announcing her bid for the governorship and leaving her AG post open.
(Trent Franks of Arizona left his committee position when he resigned from the House following accusations of sexual misconduct with his congressional aides.)
For the 13 Judiciary members who will seek reelection, a Yes vote could mean political suicide. It carries the potential of losing a portion of their base and costing them reelection.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THESE REMAINING GOP MEMBERS:
- Louie Gohmert (TX) – belongs to the ultra conservative Freedom Caucus; rabid Trump defender who is fascinated with the discredited Uranium One conspiracy.
- Jim Jordan (OH) – another Freedom Caucus member; recently called for the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
- John Ratcliffe (TX) – a former prosecutor, is pushing for investigations into the FBI, its former director and the Department of Justice.
- Martha Roby (AL) – barely won her House seat in 2016 as an outspoken critic of Trump.
- Karen Handel (GA) – emerged as the victor in a very tight race against Jon Ossof, who won 48.1% of the vote in Red Georgia.
- Jim Sensenbrenner (WI) – 73 year-old conservative facing two challengers in the upcoming Midterms.
- Steve Chabot (OH) – One of the few in his party to criticize Trump’s scatological remarks about Africa. Chabot served as a House Manager during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999.
- Tom Marino (PA) – The four-term Congressman just withdrew from consideration as Trump’s Drug Czar following revelations that he opposed a bill to curb the nation’s opioid crisis.
- Doug Collins (GA) – a moderate conservative representing NE Georgia; received a shellacking during a summer Town Hall. Collins votes with the GOP 95% of the time and his allegiance to Trump looks firm.
- Mike Johnson (LA) – freshman congressman won his seat easily as an anti-abortion, hard-on terrorists candidate. His win came from a deeply Red district.
- Andy Biggs (AZ) – called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and demanded the Special Counsel recuse himself, drawing fire from an Arizona newspaper. Biggs won his House seat by 46 votes and appears determined to attach his political fortune to the president.
- Matt Gaetz (FL) – another freshman who has hit all the bases in his defense of Trump including demands for Mueller’s recusal, a reopening of Hillary Clinton’s email inquiry and investigation into the Uranium One deal.
- Steve King (IA) – veteran legislator who is as far right as the spectrum allows; stalwart Trump supporter; pushed for release of the so-called Nunes memo and called for the ouster of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
There are 17 Democrats on the House Judiciary committee. A simple majority would require at least 21 votes. In such a scenario, all 17 Democrats and four Republican members could send articles of impeachment to the House floor.