By Gabriella Garcia
On Feb. 13, 2021, seven Republican senators voted to convict former president Donald Trump for his involvement in the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021. but 17 were needed to find Trump guilty to meet the two-thirds majority rule.
All seven Republicans that crossed party lines to vote alongside the Democrats faced criticism from voters and other factions within the party, according to CNBC—but who are they and how will the decision affect them?
Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina
Senator Burr first began his Congressional career in 2004 when he won North Carolina’s Republican Primary. He has now served in the Senate for nearly two decades but is facing censorship from the GOP as a result of his defiant stance in the impeachment trials.
Censorship is a formal statement of disapproval from the state’s party, therefore it has no direct repercussions such as removal from office but it can have lasting effects on the senator’s reputation, thus affecting his or her chances of being reelected. Senator Burr, however, will not be running next year, though there are no reports of the censorship having any influence on this decision.
In his trial statement, Senator Burr asserted Trump was responsible for the events that took place at the Capitol, stating, “The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government…”
Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
Senator Bill Cassidy has served as both a senator and representative for the state of Louisiana. He began his political career in 2006 but initially took interest in the medical field. Before running for election, Senator Cassidy helped found the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic in 1998 which provides free healthcare services for the uninsured, low-income residents of the city.
Prior to running as a Republican in 2006, Senator Cassidy identified with and donated to the Democratic Party, but decided to switch parties due to the decline in conservative Democrats.
The GOP has also censored Senator Cassidy due to his opinion on Trump’s impeachment.
Cassidy released the following statement as to why he voted to impeach Trump:
“We heard arguments from both sides on the constitutionality of having a Senate trial of a president who has since left office. A sufficient amount of evidence of constitutionality exists for the Senate to proceed with the trial. This vote is not a prejudgement on the final vote to convict,” said Dr. Cassidy. “If anyone disagrees with my vote and would like an explanation, I ask them to listen to the arguments presented by the House Managers and former President Trump’s lawyers. The House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments. The president’s team did not.”
Senator Susan Collins of Maine
Senator Susan Collins has had a lengthy career in politics dating back to 1975 when she worked as a legislative assistant to the U.S. House of Representatives once obtaining her bachelor’s degree in government.
Senator Collins was then elected to Maine’s Senate in 1996 and has since been a prominent voice for moderate Republicans. Following the Capital riots, Senator Collins publicly voiced her opinion on the matter, claiming the riots were “a dangerous, shameful, and outrageous attack on our democracy” on Twitter.
The statement she delivered on the floor was just as bold, declaring, “The abuse of power and betrayal of his oath by President Trump meet the Constitutional standard of high crimes and misdemeanors and for those reasons, I voted to convict.”
The GOP has not yet censored Senator Collins but there reports she might still, unfortunately, face it.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
Senator Lisa Murkowski has served as Alaska’s senator since 2002 and is the daughter of the state’s former governor, Frank Murkowski. She was initially serving as a member of the House of Representatives when her father appointed her to fill his seat in the Senate following his resignation.
Out of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump, she is the only one who will run for reelection in 2022. She has not been censored by the GOP thus far, though her position-taking during the impeachment trials may cost her the election as Alaska consistently votes red in both presidential and congressional elections.
Murkowski contends that her vote to impeach was “not about President Trump,” but rather out of her civic duty as a U.S. Senator to “retain jurisdiction to try a former official who was impeached while in office for acts done while in office. The Senate should not be so quick to forever give away its power to take corrective actions that may, at some point, be necessary. The Legislature must serve as a check on the Executive. Limiting this branch’s authority is not a precedent I will set.”
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah
Senator Mitt Romney has served in Utah’s state senate since 2018, following an interesting career in politics as he became one of three individuals to have served as governor of one state and senator for another.
Senator Romney served as governor for Massachusetts from 2003-2007 and was considered more or less progressive for his fiscal ideologies. He then ran for president in both 2008 and 2012, losing both times.
Senator Romney was initially outspoken about his feelings towards Trump, as he was one of the few Republicans to publicly criticize Trump for not releasing his taxes. Since the 2016 elections, however, he grew fond of the former president but does not regret his previous comments.
During the trials, Senator Romney criticized Trump just as he had before, acknowledging Trump’s attempt to overturn the election results and stating Trump encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol “despite the obvious and well-known threats of violence that day.”
Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska
Senator Ben Sasse began serving Nebraska’s senate in 2015 but has previous governmental experience as he worked within various departments of the United States government.
His statement trial referred to the previous commitments he made to Nebraskan constituents, in which he “promised to speak out when a president—even of [his] own party—exceeds his or her powers.”
Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
Senator Pat Toomey has served in Pennsylvania’s state senate since 2011 but was elected to the state’s House of Representatives in 1998. Prior to his legislative career, Senator Toomey worked as an entrepreneur and Wall Street banker.
Despite having voted for Trump himself, the Senator was vocal about his views on the president’s failure to accept the 2020 election results. “As a result of President Trump’s actions, for the first time in American history, the transfer of presidential power was not peaceful” he asserted in his statement. He further criticized Trump’s actions and his involvement in the riots by stating it was “A lawless attempt to retain power.”
Senator Toomey has since been censored by multiple members of the GOP but the party has yet to formally renounce him.
Linh Nguyen contributed to this report.
Gabriella Garcia is originally from the Bay Area, California, and is completing her fourth year at UC Davis as a Political Science major and Professional Writing minor.