The Seven Republican Senators Who Voted to Impeach Trump Say It Was Their Constitutional Duty

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Trump supporters near the U.S Capitol, on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. The protesters stormed the historic building, breaking windows and clashing with police. Trump supporters had gathered in the nation’s capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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…” 

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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.”

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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. 

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”  

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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.

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20 thoughts on “The Seven Republican Senators Who Voted to Impeach Trump Say It Was Their Constitutional Duty”

  1. Keith Olsen

    The Seven Republican Senators Who Voted to Impeach Trump Say It Was Their Constitutional Duty

    And the 43 who didn’t impeach him thought it was an unconstitutional shampeachment.

    1. Eric Gelber

      And the 43 who didn’t impeach him thought it was an unconstitutional shampeachment.

      Not really. Many of those voting to acquit believed Trump was guilty as charged but voted for acquittal on the technicality that he couldn’t be convicted because he had already left office. This was despite the fact that the Senate, which has jurisdiction on the issue, had determined that the trial was constitutional. Acquittal was based on the lack of courage by GOP Senators to cross the Trump base of the party. It was about putting self-preservation over protecting the integrity of democratic elections.

       

      1. Keith Olsen

        Then why didn’t Chief Justice Roberts reside over the shampeachment as is called for?  I’ll tell you, because it was unconstitutional and Trump wasn’t a sitting President anymore.

        1. Keith Olsen

          I think I’ll go with Ken Starr’s evaluation:

          “Every literate member of the audience can pull the Constitution, can read the key sentence: ‘Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than removal,’” Starr said on “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday, quoting the U.S. Constitution. “The natural reading of that … is what impeachment was meant to be and historically has been.”

          “In the most relevant historical precedent, that is the resignation of Richard Nixon, it was over,” Starr told Bill HemmerandDana Perino. “There was no suggestion that, well, we need to continue this process and try him and disqualify him in the future because he will remain a clear and present danger.”

          “The Congress of that time, which was controlled by Democrats, knew full well that this was not the proper constitutional course,” he added.

          https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ken-starr-trumps-second-impeachment-unconstitutional-process

           

           

          1. David Greenwald

            It is weird that Starr would truncate the actual provision…

            Article 1 Section 3 Clause 7: “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor”

          2. David Greenwald

            Keith posts a quote from Starr as his evidence, fails to fact check it, and then crickets us.

        2. Keith Olsen

          Keith posts a quote from Starr as his evidence, fails to fact check it, and then crickets us.

          Since you threw this jab and seem to want to keep this going I’ll take Starr’s opinion over your’s everyday.

          1. David Greenwald

            I just showed you that his statement was false AND you FAILED to fact check it before posting it. His quote of the constitution left out the critical second part.

          1. David Greenwald

            And in my view, he left out the key part of why they pushed the impeachment post-presidency – disqualification of office – which is explicitly mentioned in the constitution and thus completely undermining his point.

        3. Richard_McCann

          Nothing in the Constitution says that the Chief Justice must preside. All of the rules for the impeachment and trial process are set by Congress. The courts have no say in the Constitution. There were no excuses for the GOP Senators–they created a figment.

        4. Eric Gelber

          Nothing in the Constitution says that the Chief Justice must preside.

          Actually, Article II, Section 3 provides: “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.”

          Because Trump was not president at his second impeachment trial, the Chief Justice was not required to preside.

  2. Ron Oertel

    Eric: “It was about putting self-preservation over protecting the integrity of democratic elections.”

    The trial had nothing to do with “protecting the integrity of democratic elections”. If anything, that might have been part of Trump’s argument.

    Beyond technicalities (regarding impeaching someone no longer in office), I would think that it would have to do with the legal definition of “incite”, had it gone forward. (Actually, I’m not even sure what the “meat” of the decision consisted of.)

    1. Don Shor

      The trial had nothing to do with “protecting the integrity of democratic elections”.

      In fact that is what the impeachment was about. From the date of the election to the date of the attack on the Capitol by Trump’s supporters, Trump and his team embarked on an ongoing assault on our electoral process. They tried to block the electors from certifying the election. They sued to block the certification. They sought to have the Secretaries of State of key states intervene to block the results, and sought to disenfranchise millions of voters in the process. Trump tried to get the Vice President to nullify the results, a power which Pence had to repeatedly inform Trump he did not possess. And finally the president urged his supporters to physically proceed to the Capitol building to intervene and prevent certification.
      This was the most sustained, egregious assault — literally and metaphorically — on our electoral process in our lifetimes. I am utterly baffled by how anyone can seek to minimize the behavior of the former president.
      Since he was not convicted in the Senate, it will likely be necessary to file charges against him. Otherwise the precedent set by this president’s post-election behavior will do long-term harm to our institutions.

    2. Eric Gelber

      The trial had nothing to do with “protecting the integrity of democratic elections”.

      It had everything to do with the integrity of the election. It had to do with Trump’s promotion of the Big Lie. With his pressuring state election officials to “find” votes to change the outcome of an election he lost by over 7 million votes. With his inciting a mob of his angry, deluded supporters to descend on the Capitol to “stop the steal.”

      Listen to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell’s speech at the end of the proceedings to explain how Trump was morally and actually culpable. If Trump’s actions were not impeachable, nothing is.

      He got off because of Senate Republicans’ lack of integrity and failure to defend the Constitution rather than their own political futures. It will go down as a low point in U.S. history.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Unless he was on trial for “failing to protect the integrity of democratic elections” (and or “attacking” them), then that claim would be factually incorrect.

        I understood him to be on trial for incitement. If so, I’m also not sure if the legal definition of that was provable.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Remember, Al Capone escaped being convicted as a gangster, director of murders, etc.  He got convicted of income tax evasion, did time in prison, and after release, died of an STD.

          Point is, many crimes, only tried and convicted of one…

          Now that “the one who shall not be named” is a private citizen, many other charges may be brought by Federal, State officials… he lost his “cloak of invisibility (immunity)”… time will tell… there are signs that it has started…

          The Capone comparison works in a number of ways… the difference between “ordering a ‘hit’…”, and “incitement”is not that thick a ‘line’… the tax thingy, too…

      2. Ron Oertel

        I guess it was “incitement of insurrection”.  (Just skimmed the reference, below.)

        I’m not sure that either of those were provable, or if the legal standard is the same as the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal trials.

        In any case, it might be a different standard than “I don’t like what occurred, and I believe Trump was responsible for it” judgement as expressed on a blog (or in the partisan political realm). 🙂

        But, I would defer to Eric regarding legalities.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_impeachment_of_Donald_Trump

         

         

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