Kemp’s Choice For Senate Seat Could Vote On President’s Fate

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a three-term Republican senator, is stepping down this month because of health issues.

Alex Brandon / Associated Press

The stakes have changed since Sen. Johnny Isakson announced his retirement over the summer.

There’s now an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives over President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s leader. That could affect who’ll be chosen to succeed Georgia’s senior senator.

Sen. Isakson leaves office Dec. 31. There’s no clear timeline on a potential senate impeachment trial.

Should it happen after the start of the new year, it will be Isakson’s successor who’ll get to vote. That person is being hand picked by Gov. Brian Kemp.

University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock said supporting President Trump could be a litmus test for the job.

“I think that anyone who would be able to get on the shortlist would be a person who, in the absence of much more compelling evidence, would not be willing to remove the president,” said Bullock.

One potential candidate to fill Isakson’s seat is Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. But Bullock said Collins’ likelihood of succeeding Isakson could be affected if he’s seen as essential to Trump’s defense in the House.

Isakson’s office said the senator will “continue to monitor all the information should the matter come before the Senate for consideration before he leaves the Senate on Dec. 31.”

Only two Senators in Georgia’s history have been asked to decide whether a President should be removed from office. That was the trial of President Bill Clinton in 1998 with Democrat Max Cleland voted not guilty and Republican Paul Coverdell voted guilty.

Georgia hadn’t been re-admitted to the union yet when the Senate voted on whether to remove Andrew Johnson in 1868.