January 15, 2020/Press

Tillis Caught in “Political Catch-22”: He Refuses to Cross McConnell Even as Voters Demand a Fair Trial

As the articles of impeachment head to the U.S. Senate today, Senator Tillis is increasingly caught in a “political Catch-22” that puts him in between the president he “long ago laid his political future at the feet of” and “bipartisan majorities” of voters who want a fair trial with additional witnesses.

“The peril for vulnerable senators like Tillis is apparent” because Tillis is being squeezed “between the demands of [his] purple state voters and McConnell” – and choosing McConnell every time. Running in a state that “is becoming more moderate,” Tillis is trying desperately to win back conservatives who booed him at two Trump rallies by enabling efforts to limit testimony and evidence to “protect the president from further damaging information” even as “Americans by a large majority favor hearing from witnesses.”

One moderate, suburban Republican woman even said to Tillis:

“I told him that if I felt that he did not do the right and proper thing that I would use my time and resources to support his opponent and unseat him in the next election.

Tillis “already appears to have made up his mind before his chamber conducts one interview” and “has fallen into lockstep with the president” and McConnell’s sham trial – even as McConnell openly coordinates with the President. Yesterday, Tillis reiterated that he won’t vote for additional witnesses.

New polling reveals that “unambiguous” position puts Tillis on the wrong side of North Carolina voters – “bipartisan majorities” of Americans (including many Republicans) and independent voters in battleground states including North Carolina want to see a fair hearing with more witnesses.

“Senators are supposed to be impartial jurors, yet Senator Tillis has declared his loyalty lies with President Trump rather than getting the facts and upholding his Constitutional duty,” NCDP spokesman Robert Howard said. “Senator Tillis has made up his mind before he’s heard one word of testimony because he’s a self-serving politician who would rather rubberstamp a show trial than hear the truth about the president’s abuse of power.”

Washington Examiner: The impeachment trap: Endangered Senate Republicans face peril whether they support Trump or not
By David M. Drucker
January 15, 2020

Key Points:

  • Senate Republicans vulnerable to a Democratic challenge this year are facing a kind of political Catch-22 as the impeachment trial looms: Voting against President Trump risks the wrath of GOP primary voters, but voting for him ensures renomination but could cost them their careers in November.
  • Republicans in their states are fiercely loyal to Trump and would not brook dissent. It could be the exact opposite with the broader electorate.
  • “Every senator has a responsibility to secure a fair hearing, but Senate Republicans are refusing to guarantee that witnesses will be heard or new evidence will be admitted,” DSCC spokeswoman Lauren Passalacqua told the Washington Examiner.
  • “I view this as a political process,” Tillis said. “So, I’m going in, most likely viewing this as the continuation of a political process in the House and, as a result, there’s no way I can see any path” to conviction.

NBC News: Vulnerable GOP senators’ resistance to impeachment witnesses highlights Democratic concerns
By Heidi Przybyla
January 13, 2020

Key Points:

  • Last fall, before the House impeachment hearings had even begun, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis was unambiguous on where he stood on the subject. “Let me be clear,” the Republican lawmaker contended in an October email response to a constituent, “this is nothing more than a political exercise to distract the American people from President Trump’s record of results.”
  • The views expressed in the email were in line with some public statements Tillis made at the time, including a Sept. 25 tweet calling impeachment a “pathetic attempt” to destroy Trump “with falsehoods.”
  • Now that Trump has been impeached and faces a trial in the Senate, that response from Tillis to North Carolina resident Linda Sand serves as another example of the Democrats’ suspicion that the outcome may already be preordained.
  • Once the trial is underway, a simple majority of senators can vote to call individual witnesses — putting pressure on Republicans like Tillis to either side with hearing from witnesses or possibly appear to protect the president from further damaging information.
  • Tillis is among the top four most vulnerable Republicans running for re-election in 2020, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
  • More recent comments suggest Tillis remains skeptical, including of the need to hear from witnesses. “I don’t want to spend a lot of time doing what I expected the House to do,” Tillis said last Friday on Fox News. “You’d think if there was any truth to it, they would have spent the time in the House to actually bring it forward” by challenging witnesses refusing to testify through the court system, he said.
  • “This is just another sham in trying to impeach this president for three years,” Tillis said. But national polls show that Americans by a large majority favor hearing from witnesses.
  • The peril for vulnerable senators like Tillis is apparent. Traditionally Republican-leaning North Carolina is becoming more moderate — Trump won the state by less than 3 percentage points over Hillary Clinton in 2016. And voters like Sand, a college-educated woman with grown children who’s been a Republican for 33 years, represent the kind of voters Tillis will need to win a general election.
  • Another source of uncertainty comes in the role that Chief Justice John Roberts will play in the decision on whether to call witnesses.
  • That means vulnerable Republicans like Tillis would be in the awkward position of voting to overrule Roberts, a conservative Republican appointed by President George W. Bush, in order to prevent witness testimony.
  • Sand, in an email to NBC, recalled her initial correspondence with Tillis: “I told him that if I felt that he did not do the right and proper thing that I would use my time and resources to support his opponent and unseat him in the next election.”