Republicans Tell Trump to 'Stick With the Agenda,' Avoid Mentioning Impeachment in State of the Union Address

As the impeachment trial in the Senate comes to a close, and Donald Trump prepares to deliver his third State of the Union address Tuesday evening, Republicans are urging the president to provide a unifying and positive message that avoids more divisive topics, such as impeachment and Ukraine.

"It's the State of the Union. I just think there's no way you talk about that and that not be the takeaway," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said. "He has a lot of positive things to talk about."

Trump will face the unusual circumstance of delivering his address amid an ongoing impeachment trial that is expected to result in his acquittal. The Senate will vote Wednesday afternoon to acquit or convict Trump for two impeachment articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his Ukraine dealings.

"We've been talking about it for so long. I think he needs to stick with the agenda, and he'll do quite well," said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), offering Trump a direct pitch. "You made it through. Let's turn the page to what most people back in our home states want you to."

But Trump's presidency has been far from politics as usual. Whether he heeds the advice from members of his own party is a question that looms large. In his annual address last year, Trump could not resist from railing against former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of election interference by Russia.

"If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation," he said at the time, receiving strong condemnation from Democrats.

Trump avoid impeachment state of the union
President Donald Trump walks through the doors to the House Chamber to deliver the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol Building on February 5, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Doug Mills - Pool/Getty

GOP senators cautioned that while they'd prefer Trump to steer clear of discussing impeachment, history has shown that it's anyone's guess what he'll choose to do.

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said the president "may not even know yet," but that it's "one of the things that's magical about Donald Trump."

"Everyone should know that Trump will be Trump. If I was writing the speech, I wouldn't include it, but I'm not writing the speech," Cramer said. "I wouldn't do it because I'm not Donald Trump, but Donald Trump has defied traditional politics—quite successfully—for over three years now...I want him to talk about his vision for America and his incredible accomplishments, what we've been able to do together and all that we can do together."

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) urged Trump to "have a very clear message on all of the wonderful accomplishments" he's had. That includes a strong economy, she said, or to focus on infrastructure and the military, and to center his message on unity.

"Let's focus on the things that can bring us together," said Ernst, a member of Senate GOP leadership. "I think we really need something that will pull Democrats and Republicans back together again. We really need to be working on a number of these issues in a bipartisan manner."