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Why These 7 Republicans Voted to Convict Trump Despite GOP Backlash

Seven Republican senators joined with Democrats in voting to convict former President Donald Trump at the conclusion of his second impeachment trial.

Trump has been acquitted of inciting an insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6. The GOP defections nevertheless stand as a sharp rebuke of the former President.

The Republicans who voted for conviction 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
Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

The vote was 43 not guilty to 57 guilty — short of the 67 guilty votes needed to convict Trump.

HOW REPUBLICAN SENATORS EXPLAINED THEIR VOTES TO CONVICT

Richard Burr, who is not running for reelection next year, said, in part, in a statement: “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.”

He went on to say, “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.”

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

Susan Collins explained her vote in a speech on the Senate floor, saying, in part: “My vote in this trial stems from my own oath and duty to defend the Constitution of the United States. 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.”

Lisa Murkowski, who is slated to face voters again in her state as soon as 2022: told reporters later Saturday that she understands her decision to vote to convict Trump could come with electoral consequences but argued she made a decision she thought was best.

“It’s not about me,” Murkowski said in part. “It’s not about me and my life, my job, 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?”

Mitt Romney said, in part, in a statement: “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.”

Ben Sasse said, in part, in a lengthy statement on his vote: “On election night 2014, I promised Nebraskans I’d always vote my conscience even if it was against the partisan stream. In my first speech here in the Senate in November 2015, I promised to speak out when a president — even of my own party — exceeds his or her powers. I cannot go back on my word, and Congress cannot lower our standards on such a grave matter, simply because it is politically convenient. I must vote to convict.”

Pat Toomey, who is not running for reelection next year: told reporters on a call later Saturday that Trump will “be remembered throughout history as the President who resorted to non-legal steps to try to hold onto power.”

Rejecting the arguments from Trump’s defense team that the former President’s conduct was protected under the First Amendment and that the trial itself was unconstitutional because he was out of office, said: “No president, or anyone else, has the First Amendment right to incite a violent attack on our government,” and that there was “an overwhelming body of evidence that suggests” the trial was “constitutionally permissible,” noting that the Constitution gives the Senate the “sole power to try all impeachments.”

What Happens Now?

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has already been censured by the Louisiana GOP for his vote to convict former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial Saturday, keeping with a trend across the country, in which Republicans breaking with Trump have faced backlash at home. It appears the Nebraska Republican Party may take the same route with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).

Meanwhile, two other senators who joined Cassidy and Sasse in voting to convict — Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) — faced rebukes from the Republican parties in their home state, but so far, it seems, the parties are stopping short of voting to censure.

The Utah GOP’s executive director Laurel Price told Forbes the party doesn’t have a statement on Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) vote to convict, adding “I’m not certain about a censure effort just yet.”

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) round out the group of seven GOP lawmakers who voted guilty. There’s been no word from their state parties as of yet, but Murkowski is up for re-election in 2022, making her the first of the seven (Burr and Toomey are retiring) to face the ballot box test.