February 26, 2021

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7 Republican senators bucked their party and voted to convict Trump at his impeachment trial. Here’s how they explained their votes

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WASHINGTON – Seven Republican senators voted to convict Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial Saturday, siding with Democrats in a major rebuke of the former president for his role in the deadly Capitol riots on Jan. 6.

Though Trump was acquitted, the 57-43 Senate vote against Trump was the most bipartisan vote for conviction of a president in history – previous presidents faced votes entirely from the opposition party. 

The senators were Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Here’s how they explained their vote Saturday:

Sen. Richard Burr

North Carolina: Sen. Richard Burr (R) • Est. net worth in 2018: $7,426,213 • Assumed office: Jan. 3, 2005 • Current term ends: 2023 • Approval rating: 38% approve; 34% disapprove

“The President promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election because he did not like the results. As Congress met to certify the election results, the President directed his supporters to go to the Capitol to disrupt the lawful proceedings required by the Constitution. When the crowd became violent, the President used his office to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault,” Burr said in a statement. “As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict.”

He added, “I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduces nominee for United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield during her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on January 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Thomas-Greenfield previously served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the Obama administration. (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775615748 ORIG FILE ID: 1230816466

“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty,” Cassidy said in a statement.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, questions witnesses during a Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19 on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington.

“I’m sure that there are many Alaskans that are very dissatisfied with my vote. And I’m sure that there are many Alaskans that are proud of my vote. And I’m sure that that is the same of every 100 of us that just cast a vote in there,” Murkowski said. “Because the country is split. The country is divided. And the country has chosen sides in a way that, as we can see, can be very aggressive and can lead to violence. Politics is rough and tumble and we understand that. And I’d love to think that we can argue back and forth about the merits of whether or not we need to increase the minimum wage or what we need to do on trade policy. Let’s argue it, let’s debate it. Let’s have wins, let’s have losses. But let’s stop this hatred. Let’s stop trying to denigrate the other side so that we can gain the advantage. Let’s just talk about our good ideas. And that’s why you should like us not because you hate the other guys more or you trust the other guys less.”

“I think what you saw, what you saw here on the sixth was just a snapshot of the agitation that’s out there in the country right now,” she added.

“It’s not about me,” she said. “This is really about what we stand for. And if I can’t say what I believe that our president should stand for, then why should I ask Alaskans to stand with me? So there’s, there’s consequences, I guess, with every vote, and this was consequential on many levels, but I cannot allow my vote, the significance of my vote to be devalued by whether or not I feel that this is helpful for my political ambitions.”

Sen. Mitt Romney

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, arrives at the Senate for a roll call vote to confirm Antony Blinken, President Joe Biden's nominee to be secretary of State, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. The senators will be sworn in later as jurors in the impeachment of former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ORG XMIT: DCSA131

“After careful consideration of the respective counsels’ arguments, I have concluded that President Trump is guilty of the charge made by the House of Representatives,” Romney said. “President Trump attempted to corrupt the election by pressuring the Secretary of State of Georgia to falsify the election results in his state. President Trump incited the insurrection against Congress by using the power of his office to summon his supporters to Washington on January 6th and urging them to march on the Capitol during the counting of electoral votes. He did this despite the obvious and well known threats of violence that day. President Trump also violated his oath of office by failing to protect the Capitol, the Vice President, and others in the Capitol.”

He added, “Each and every one of these conclusions compels me to support conviction.”

Sen. Ben Sasse

Ben Sasse during Wednesday's hearing.

“An impeachment trial is a public declaration of what a president’s oath of office means and what behavior that oath demands of presidents in the future. But here’s the sad reality: If we were talking about a Democratic president, most Republicans and most Democrats would simply swap sides. Tribalism is a hell of a drug, but our oath to the Constitution means we’re constrained to the facts,” Sasse said in a statement. “First, President Trump lied that he ‘won the election by a landslide.’ He lied about widespread voter fraud, spreading conspiracy theories despite losing 60 straight court challenges, many of his losses handed down by great judges he nominated. He tried to intimidate the Georgia secretary of state to ‘find votes’ and overturn that state’s election. He publicly and falsely declared that Vice President Pence could break his constitutional oath and simply declare a different outcome.”

He continued, “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. 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,” he said.

Sen. Pat Toomey

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.., questions Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during a hearing on the "Examination of Loans to Businesses Critical to Maintaining National Security" on Capitol Hill on Dec. 10, 2020 in Washington.

“He began with dishonest, systematic attempts to convince supporters that he had won. His lawful, but unsuccessful, legal challenges failed due to lack of evidence. Then, he applied intense pressure on state and local officials to reverse the election outcomes in their states,” Toomey said. “When these efforts failed, President Trump summoned thousands to Washington, D.C. and inflamed their passions by repeating disproven allegations about widespread fraud. He urged the mob to march on the Capitol for the explicit purpose of preventing Congress and the Vice President from formally certifying the results of the presidential election. All of this to hold on to power despite having legitimately lost.”

Toomey, who is not running reelection in 2022, said Trump “betrayed the confidence” of millions.

“As a result of President Trump’s actions, for the first time in American history, the transfer of presidential power was not peaceful. 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,” he said. “I was one of the 74 million Americans who voted for President Trump, in part because of the many accomplishments of his administration. Unfortunately, his behavior after the election betrayed the confidence millions of us placed in him.”

Sen. Susan Collins

In this image from video, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks after the Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. Trump was accused of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the acquittal gives him a historic second victory in the court of impeachment. (Senate Television via AP)

Collins, speaking on the Senate floor, said the impeachment trial is not about a “single word uttered” by Trump on the day of Jan. 6, but is rather about Trump’s “failure to obey the oath he swore on Jan. 20, 2017.”

“That attack was not a spontaneous outbreak of violence. Rather it was the culmination of a steady stream of provocations by President Trump that were aimed at overturning the results of the presidential election. The president’s unprecedented efforts to discredit the election results did not begin on Jan. 6. Rather, he planted the seeds of doubt many weeks before the votes were cast on Nov. 3,” she said.

“My vote in this trial stems from my own oath and duty to defend the Constitution of the United States,” she added. “The abuse of power and betrayal of his oath by President Trump meet the constitutional standards of high crime and misdemeanors. And for those reasons, I voted to convict Donald J Trump.”

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