Republican senators are wrestling over what they want their party’s future relationship with Dona…

Republican senators are wrestling over what they want their partys future relationship with Donald TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: reportDC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worriesPardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYTMORE to be after he leaves office on Wednesday.
Faced with a deeply divided Senate Republican conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against TrumpRove: Chances of conviction rise if Giuliani represents Trump in Senate impeachment trialBoebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: reportMORE (R-Ky.) is giving his colleagues free rein to vote their conscience when the Senate tries Trump on charges that he incited an insurrection.
McConnell is telling colleagues that he himself hasnt decided whether to vote to convict Trump on a House-passed article of impeachment and associates describe the GOP leader as furious over that attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
The New York Times reported that McConnell has told associates that he sees the impeachment effort as a way for the Republican Party to break with Trump, although the GOP leader later discounted what he called speculation in the press.
A Senate vote to convict Trump would need at least 17 Republican votes to be successful, if all 50 Democratic senators vote to convict. A second vote could be held to prevent Trump from running for office again. That would require a simple Senate majority.
While a good number of Republican senators would like to break free of what they see as the destabilizing and often erratic leadership of Trump, Republican strategists and aides warn there is a serious political risk to banning him from future political office.
I dont think its an easy call, but I think there would be a lot more Republican support evident if it were not linked to the Democrats clear desire to prevent him from running for office ever again, said Vin Weber, a Republican strategist. Thats the real question politically.
A lot of people in both parties who want Trump just gone think, Thats good, well just get rid of Trump. He cant run again, he added.
But he cautioned the hard-core Trump people, which probably means a majority of the Republican voters, still view Trump as their leader [and] they view the election as stolen.
If we take the step of banning Trump from running again, theyre not going to say anythings been stolen. Theyre simply going to say the power structure of the country has prevented our leader from running again and theyll be right, he added. Youve created an impossible situation in terms of trying to soften the divisions a little bit in the country and soften the vote on the hard-core pro-Trump side.
Some Republicans are already using that as a justification to oppose impeachment.
Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottHarris to resign from Senate seat on MondayMcConnell says he’s undecided on whether to vote to convict TrumpMcConnell won’t reprise role as chief Trump defenderMORE (R-S.C.), an influential member of the Senate GOP conference who led the effort to put together a Republican police-reform bill last year, warned that impeaching Trump would undercut efforts to promote national unity after the strife of 2020.
An impeachment vote will only lead to more hate and a deeply fractured nation, he said, arguing that convicting Trump would fly in direct opposition to what President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenFear of insider attack prompts additional FBI screening of National Guard troops: APIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: reportDC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worriesMORE has been calling for all year.
At the same time, outrage has mounted within the Senate Republican Conference as news details about last weeks attack on Congress emerge.
Federal prosecutors said in a court filing Friday that they had strong evidence the rioters who breached the Capitol intended to capture and assassinate elected officials, including Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceNewly released video from inside Capitol siege shows rioters confronting police, rifling through Senate desksAuthor: Meadows is history’s worst White House chief of staffDemocratic lawmaker says ‘assassination party’ hunted for Pelosi during riotMORE.
That revelation sparked outrage from Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseSasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOPDemocratic super PAC targets Hawley, Cruz in new ad blitzHotel cancels Hawley fundraiser after Capitol riot: ‘We are horrified’MORE (R-Neb.), an influential conservative who may run for president in 2024.
These men werent drunks who got rowdy they were terrorists attacking this countrys constitutionally-mandated transfer of power. They failed, but they came dangerously close to starting a bloody constitutional crisis. They must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, Sasse said in a statement.  
Trumps plummeting popularity, his words of encouragement to a crowd of supporters before the storming of the Capitol last week and his debunked and unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was stolen has GOP senators looking for a way to decisively break with the outgoing president.
A small group of Republican senators has signaled they are open to voting to convict Trump for inciting the crowd.
I believe that this president has committed an impeachable offense through his words on the sixth of January, and leading up to the sixth of January, when he was not honest to the American people about the election and the election results, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDemocratic lawmaker says ‘assassination party’ hunted for Pelosi during riotImpeachment trial tests Trump’s grip on Senate GOP’Almost Heaven, West Virginia’ Joe Manchin and a 50-50 SenateMORE (R-Alaska) told KTUU, an Alaskan news channel.
Sasse, Sens. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019Appeals court rules NSA’s bulk phone data collection illegalDunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panelMORE (R-Pa.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsImpeachment trial tests Trump’s grip on Senate GOP’Almost Heaven, West Virginia’ Joe Manchin and a 50-50 SenateMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last timeMORE (R-Maine) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyImpeachment trial tests Trump’s grip on Senate GOP’Almost Heaven, West Virginia’ Joe Manchin and a 50-50 SenateThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. historyMORE (R-Utah) have also either said Trump committed impeachable offenses or blamed him for inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol.
But Republican aides say Democrats wont get 17 GOP senators to vote to convict Trump after he leaves office.
Its an opportunity to purge Trump, yes. I dont know there are 17 votes to do so. This is more of an opportunity for the Democrats to continue to try to destroy the Republican Party. What the Democrats have very successfully done is politicize impeachment with no hearings, no process in the House, said a Senate GOP aide.
The aide predicted that Trumps legal team will respond on the Senate floor with statements and videos by Democratic politicians urging their supporters to fight and expressing sympathy to the Black Lives Matter protests last year, which resulted in property destruction and deaths in several cities.
Already Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzNewly released video from inside Capitol siege shows rioters confronting police, rifling through Senate desksCan we protect our country from our rulers, and ourselves?Democratic super PAC targets Hawley, Cruz in new ad blitzMORE (R-Texas), who has been called on by several Democratic colleagues to resign because if his role in opposing the final tally of electoral votes for Biden, is pointing to Democrats support for the summer protests.
Some Republicans such as Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonOfficials brace for second Trump impeachment trialBooker: It would be ‘constitutionally dangerous’ not to conduct full Trump impeachment trialCan we protect our country from our rulers, and ourselves?MORE (R-Ark.) will try to sidestep the question of whether Trump committed impeachable offenses by arguing that impeachment does not apply to a private citizen, which is what Trump will be by the time the Senate trial begins.
The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public officenot an inquest against private citizens, he said in a statement.
Theres also growing uncertainty whether Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Retired Army general: ‘We can’t have demonstrators showing up at a state Capitol with damn long guns’Graham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against TrumpMORE (D-Calif.) will even send the House-passed article of impeachment to the Senate this month as doing so would force a trial to begin immediately, which would stall work on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal Biden unveiled Thursday and hang up confirmation of his Cabinet nominees.
The Republican aide said Republicans are not likely to give Democrats consent to work on a coronavirus relief bill and confirm Bidens nominees while the trial is going on, which means the incoming presidents agenda could be stalled for weeks.
Some Democrats are already balking at putting the Senate on pause for as long two weeks to a month to conduct an impeachment trial.
Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinBiden tax-hike proposals face bumpy road aheadSenate Democrats leery of nixing filibusterManchin: Removing Hawley, Cruz with 14th Amendment ‘should be a consideration’MORE (D-W.Va.), an influential centrist, says holding a Senate trial after Trump leaves office doesnt make any common sense whatsoever.
Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenate Democrats leery of nixing filibusterDemocratic senator: COVID-19 relief is priority over impeachment trialLawmakers push back on late Trump terror designation for Yemen’s HouthisMORE (D-Conn.) said Friday his priority is to move a relief package and Bidens nominees before holding a trial to convict an ex-president.
The Senate trial could not begin before 1 p.m. on Jan. 20, after Trump is out of office, because the upper chamber is in a recess until Tuesday.