Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) emphasized on Wednesday that it “carries real weight” for Republicans to speak out against President Trump while in office, citing the recent exits of a number of notable Republican lawmakers.
“For a while he [Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)] was vociferous against the president. He has now done backflips in the opposite direction based on — being fairly transparent, saying this is the cost of admission, I want to stay in the game,” Sanford told The Hill’s Julia Manchester on “NH Today with Jack Heath.”
“A lot of people look at the fact that [former Sen. Bob] Corker [R-Tenn.] and [Former Sen. Jeff] Flake [R-Ariz.] are gone, they look at that I’m gone. If you speak up against this president while in office, it carries real weight,” he continued.
Sanford, who ended his longshot 2020 bid to unseat Trump on Tuesday, was referring to how Senate Republicans would handle articles of impeachment against Trump if he is impeached in the Democratic-controlled House.
The former governor also cited former Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘s recent Senate campaign ad praising Trump, and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley‘s new book defending the president as signs of loyalty in the party’s upper ranks.
“Look at the Jeff Sessions ad. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is remarkable. This guy was beaten to death by the president, and yet he runs an ad that’s basically a suck up ad to the president,” Sanders said. “If you look at Nikki Haley’s book, it’s really signaling to the president that ‘I’m on your team.’ I mean, it’s just one thing after another.”
Twenty Republican senators would be needed to secure a guilty verdict in the upper chamber.
Sanford said “there is no way” 20 Republicans would defect.
The House impeachment inquiry will enter its public phase on Wednesday with the first televised hearings set to air on television.
Democrats in the lower chamber are investigating whether Trump tied aid to Ukraine to the country opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.