Here’s Why Seven GOP Senators Voted to Convict Donald Trump
(Bloomberg) -- Seven Republican senators broke ranks and voted to convict Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol -- 10 shy of the 17 needed to reach a two-thirds majority, but still an unusually strong rebuke from members of the former president’s party.
Each is likely to face significant blowback from other Republicans. Here are the seven senators and the explanations for their votes:
Richard Burr of North Carolina
Burr had previously announced he won’t run for re-election in 2022, and has been a sometime critic of Trump’s. He ran a multi-year bipartisan investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether it was aimed at helping Trump win.
“The president bears responsibility for these tragic events,” Burr said in a statement after his vote to convict Trump. “The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a co-equal branch of government, and that the charge rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict.”
Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
Cassidy, who just won re-election and won’t face voters again until 2026, had been agonizing over his decision all week, and was troubled by the inability of Trump’s lawyers to explain the former president’s inaction during the first hours of the riot as police were under attack, people were dying, and lawmakers --including Vice President Mike Pence -- were under threat.
“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty,” he said in a statement.
Susan Collins of Maine
Collins voted to acquit Trump at his first impeachment trial, saying the House had failed to clear the high bar for removing a president from office and later said she hoped the former president learned a lesson after that proceeding. This time, she voted to convict.
Collins ripped Trump in a lengthy floor speech for inciting the insurrection and said he “bears significant responsibility for the invasion.” She said the trial for her was about his failure to follow his oath of office and respect the peaceful transition of power.
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
Murkowski has previously expressed a hope that her party could move on from Trump, and is arguably the most independent Republican senator. She plans to run for re-election next year and is sure to face a Trump-aligned primary challenger. However, in 2010, she won as a write-in candidate after losing a party primary.
The Alaskan issued a lengthy statement on Sunday that excoriated Trump, whom she said “set the stage” for the “violence and desecration” of Jan. 6.
“If months of lies, organizing a rally of supporters in an effort to thwart the work of Congress, encouraging a crowd to march on the Capitol, and then taking no meaningful action to stop the violence once it began is not worthy of impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from holding office in the United States, I cannot imagine what is,” she said.
Mitt Romney of Utah
The 2012 GOP presidential nominee was the only Republican to vote to toss Trump from office a year ago, and his vote was not a surprise.
Romney accused Trump of trying to “corrupt the election” by pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to falsify results, and of inciting the insurrection.
“Trump also violated his oath of office by failing to protect the Capitol, the Vice President, and others in the Capitol,” Romney said.
Ben Sasse of Nebraska
Sasse has emerged as one of the few young Republicans willing to buck Trump, harshly slamming his efforts to overturn the election results. Conveniently for him, he also just won re-election and won’t face voters for six years.
In a statement explaining his vote, he condemned Trump for falsely claiming he won the 2020 election by a landslide and for spreading conspiracy theories about voter fraud.
“The president repeated these lies when summoning his crowd -- parts of which were widely known to be violent -- to Capitol Hill to intimidate Vice President Pence and Congress into not fulfilling our constitutional duties,” he said. “Those lies had consequences, endangering the life of the vice president and bringing us dangerously close to a bloody constitutional crisis. Each of these actions are violations of a president’s oath of office.”
Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
Toomey has long chafed at Trump, particularly on their divergent economic philosophies. He came out quickly against Trump’s efforts to overturn the results in his state. He’s retiring and doesn’t need to worry about a primary.
“As a result of President Trump’s actions, for the first time in American history, the transfer of presidential power was not peaceful,” Toomey said. “A lawless attempt to retain power by a president was one of the founders’ greatest fears motivating the inclusion of the impeachment authorities in the U.S. Constitution.”
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