The 7 Republican senators who voted to convict former President Donald Trump explain their rationale

Christopher Wilson and Crystal Hill
·5-min read

Donald Trump's second impeachment trial came to an end Saturday with 57 senators voting to convict, falling short of the two-thirds margin required to find him guilty of the charge of “incitement of insurrection” in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol that resulted in five deaths. Seven GOP senators broke with their party — voting along with all 48 Democrats and both independents in the body.

After the 57-43 vote, the Republicans who defied Trump explained their decision.

Richard Burr, North Carolina

“The facts are clear,” Burr said in a statement after the vote. “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 originally voted that the trial was unconstitutional, but said in his statement that “the Senate is an institution based on precedent, and given that the majority of the Senate voted to proceed with this trial, the question of constitutionality is now established precedent."

He has already announced he will not be running for reelection in 2022.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., walks in the Capitol as the Senate proceeds in a rare weekend session for final arguments in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., in the Capitol on Saturday as the Senate proceeds for final arguments in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Bill Cassidy, Louisiana

Cassidy said in a succinct video statement Saturday that he had voted to convict Trump “because he is guilty.”

“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person,” he said.

Susan Collins, Maine

Earlier this week, Collins, who won reelection in November, said she was “perplexed” by the performance of Trump attorney Bruce Castor.

“He did not seem to make any arguments at all, which was an unusual approach to take,” she said.

After she voted to acquit Trump last year at his first impeachment trial, Collins said she believed “the president has learned from this case. The president has been impeached. That's a pretty big lesson."

On Saturday, Collins voted to convict and offered a different assessment of the former president.

“Instead of preventing a dangerous situation, President Trump created one. And rather than defend the constitutional transfer of power, he incited an insurrection with the purpose of preventing that transfer of power from occurring," she said.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, departs the Capitol Saturday after the conclusion of the impeachment trial. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool via AP)
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, departs the Capitol Saturday after the conclusion of the impeachment trial. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool via AP)

Lisa Murkowski, Alaska

Murkowski, who is up for reelection in 2022, told Politico after the vote Saturday that she’s not concerned with facing political consequences for her vote to convict.

“If I can’t say what I believe that our president should stand for, then why should I ask Alaskans to stand with me? This was consequential on many levels, but I cannot allow the significance of my vote to be devalued by whether or not I feel that this is helpful for my political ambitions,” she said.

On Friday, Murkowski and Collins posed a key question to Trump’s counsel: Exactly when did Trump learn of the breach at the Capitol, and what specific actions did he take to bring the rioting to an end? Trump’s counsel seemed to avoid the question, telling the senators there had been “no investigation into that.”

Asked about the answer to her question, Murkowski said it “wasn’t very responsive.”

The senator said Wednesday that the House impeachment managers “made a very strong case” and that the evidence presented was “pretty damning,” NBC reported.

Mitt Romney, Utah

Romney was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump following his first impeachment trial last year. After the vote on Saturday, the senator said in a statement that he believed Trump was guilty of inciting the insurrection and added that the former president “attempted to corrupt the election by pressuring the Secretary of State of Georgia to falsify the election results in his state.”

“President Trump also violated his oath of office by failing to protect the Capitol, the Vice President, and others in the Capitol. Each and every one of these conclusions compels me to support conviction,” his statement said.

In this image from video, the final vote total of 57-43, to acquit former President Donald Trump of the impeachment charge, incitement of insurrection, in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)
An image from video showing the final vote total of 57-43, short of the 67 required to convict the former president. (Senate Television via AP)

Ben Sasse, Nebraska

Sasse, one of the few GOP senators who were not directly opposed to the impeachment trial, said in a statement Saturday that the former president had repeated lies about the election, such as the false claim that he won by a landslide, and used those lies to summon his supporters to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Those lies had consequences,” the statement said, “endangering the life of the vice president and bringing us dangerously close to a bloody constitutional crisis.”

Sasse’s support of the former president waned long before the November election, and the Omaha World-Herald reported that he faces censure from Nebraska Republicans over his lack of support for Trump.

Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania

In a statement released after his vote, Toomey said, “President Trump summoned thousands to Washington, D.C. and inflamed their passion 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.”

“I was one of the 74 million Americans who voted for President Trump, in part because of the many accomplishments of his administration,” Toomey continued. “Unfortunately, his behavior after the election betrayed the confidence millions of us placed in him. His betrayal of the Constitution and his oath of office required conviction.”

Toomey has already announced he will not be running for reelection in 2022.

____

Read more from Yahoo News: