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Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats face big headaches on Biden's T spending plan Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap GOP worries fiscal conservatism losing its rallying cry MORE (D-Conn.) caused a stir Friday when he said a “handful” of Senate Republican colleagues have privately told him they would consider voting to remove President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump's Facebook ban to stay in place, board rules Trump allies launching nonprofit focused on voter fraud DOJ asks for outside lawyer to review Giuliani evidence MORE from office.

Murphy conceded “it’s a small list, on one hand,” but Democrats would consider it a major victory if they could tout a bipartisan vote in the Senate to remove Trump from office in an election year.

His remarks created buzz since no congressional Republicans have publicly said they would even consider taking such a step, and not one House GOP lawmaker voted for the resolution establishing the rules for the impeachment inquiry. But Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashBiden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' Battle rages over vaccine passports Republicans eye primaries in impeachment vote MORE (Mich.), an independent who left the Republican Party in July, said Friday he would vote for articles of impeachment. 

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Senate insiders and outside political observers say there are only three GOP senators who might vote to convict Trump on any articles of impeachment.

Here they are, along with a handful of others who could entertain the idea but are almost certain to vote to acquit.


Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRomney defends Cheney: She 'refuses to lie' The Memo: Trump's critics face wrath of GOP base Allies of GOP leader vow to oust Liz Cheney MORE (Maine)
 

Collins has carefully avoided commenting on evidence that has emerged from the House impeachment inquiry even though she has been one of the president’s most vocal Republican critics in the Senate, breaking with Trump on several high-profile votes.

While Collins has declined to say how she might vote on articles of impeachment, citing her likely role as a juror who will need to weigh the evidence impartially, she has followed the House proceedings more closely than many of her Senate GOP colleagues.

“I’m definitely reading materials. I’ve started reviewing the transcripts. My staff is doing summaries of some of the witnesses. I’ve asked them to compile each day the major moments in the hearings in the House,” she told reporters last month. 

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Collins has the toughest decision of any of the Senate Republicans seen as potentially voting for articles of impeachment — she is up for reelection in a state won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi's archbishop calls for Communion to be withheld from public figures supporting abortion rights Hillary Clinton: Biden less 'constrained' than Clinton and Obama due to prior administration Biden's unavoidable foreign policy crisis MORE in 2016.

She will also have to consider her long-established brand as an independent-minded moderate, which surely will come under attack from Democrats if she votes to acquit.

But if Collins votes to convict, she could face a primary challenge next year from former Maine Gov. Paul LePage or one of his GOP allies.

“The one worry that she has would be the primary. Paul LePage has returned to Maine to make it known that even he would run against her if she didn’t toe the line, which would mean support for Donald Trump,” said Janet Martin, a government professor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Adding to the pressure is one of Collins’s mentors, former Maine Sen. William Cohen (R), who helped seal President Nixon’s fate in 1974 when he voted for two articles of impeachment as a House Judiciary Committee member.

Cohen told The Associated Press last month that Trump committed something “tantamount to a criminal act” by threatening to withhold money for Ukraine unless it pledged to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenCensus results show White House doubling down on failure Poll: Americans back new spending, tax hikes on wealthy, but remain wary of economic impact True immigration reform requires compromise from both sides of the aisle MORE. 

“To me it’s an impeachable act,” he said.


Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBudowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal Kinzinger backs Cheney on criticism of Republican Party MORE (Utah)
 

Romney has emerged as one of Trump’s toughest Republican critics in Congress since taking office in January. 

He has called Trump’s prodding of Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden “troubling in the extreme.” When the president also called on China to investigate Biden, Romney blasted the move as “wrong and appalling.” 

Romney, 72, is seen as having the most freedom to vote to convict, as he made his concerns about the president’s character known during the 2016 primary, when he excoriated Trump as “a phony” and “a fraud” in a last ditch effort to deprive him of the nomination.

Romney’s career as a former governor and GOP presidential nominee, in addition to his fortune amassed in the private sector, affords him greater independence than most lawmakers.

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A Republican source familiar with Romney’s thinking told The Hill in October that the Utah senator is “more concerned about his legacy in terms of his family, his faith, his country and his party” than about whether he is popular with fellow Senate Republicans. 

Vin Weber, who served as an adviser to Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, says Romney will follow his conscience and vote how he thinks is best for the country. 

“I’m sure he’s deeply troubled by Trump’s actions because he’s a person of pristine integrity and high intellect,” Weber said. 

He added that Romney will also carefully weigh the national implications of voting to remove a president from office for the first time in American history. 

“My guess is that Sen. Romney, although he’s going to be really troubled by this, is going to come to the conclusion the country’s interests are not served by removing Donald Trump from office,” he said. 

But if Romney decides that’s what’s best for the country, he will vote without fear of political backlash, Weber said. “He’s a strong man and he’ll do what he thinks is the right thing.” 

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Tim Chambless, an associate professor of political science at the University of Utah, said Romney’s clashes with Trump have cost him some support, noting that an October poll showed Romney with a 46 percent approval rating and 51 percent disapproval rating in the state. 

But Romney, who isn’t up for reelection until 2024, has free rein to vote how he wants, Chambless said. 

Relations between Trump and Romney have remained strained. In October, the president slammed Romney as a “pompous ass.” Just last week, Romney shot down Trump’s suggestion that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election.

Romney has declined to comment on the evidence against Trump produced by the House inquiry, saying says he will weigh all the facts once they are presented to the Senate before expressing his judgment.


Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump muddles Republican messaging on Afghanistan Trump drama divides GOP, muddling message Moderate Republicans leery of Biden's renewed call for unity MORE (Alaska)
 

Murkowski has cast some of the biggest votes against Trump of any Senate Republican since the start of his presidency. 

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She voted against Trump’s effort to repeal ObamaCare and opposed the president’s embattled Supreme Court pick, Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughConservative justices split in ruling for immigrant fighting deportation Supreme Court weighs whether to limit issuance of exemptions to biofuel blending requirements The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP makes infrastructure play; Senate passes Asian hate crimes bill MORE.

Murkowski isn’t up for reelection until 2022, and her base of political support in Alaska includes independents and Democrats who helped her win a write-in campaign in 2010 when she lost the GOP primary to a conservative challenger.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Murkowski criticized Trump for holding up U.S. aid to Ukraine, telling a reporter in October: “You don’t hold up foreign aid that we previously appropriated for a political initiative.” 

Like Collins and Romney, Murkowski has declined to comment on the developments of the House impeachment inquiry and says she will weigh the evidence when articles of impeachment are submitted to the Senate. 

“Alaskans are not paying much attention to the House impeachment drama,” she told The Hill last month.

“They’re seeing the headlines in their paper and know that it’s underway, but I’ve been checking in with my staff that are working the phone lines, not just here in D.C. but around the state. I check the mail traffic coming in and it is not something that is occupying the waking hours of Alaskans right now,” she added.


Other Senate Republicans

After Collins, Romney and Murkowski, there is a larger group of GOP senators who have publicly or privately expressed concern over Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine and his attempt to persuade Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to conduct a corruption investigation.

The group includes GOP lawmakers such as Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Biden, GOP set to find out if US wants activist government Sunday shows - Biden economic agenda dominates MORE (Ohio), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna Vaccine hesitancy among lawmakers slows return to normalcy on Capitol Hill FBI was aware Giuliani was a target of a Russian influence campaign ahead of 2020 election: report MORE (Wis.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottLocal Texas Democratic chair apologizes for calling Sen. Scott an 'Oreo' Racist 'Uncle Tim' slurs are a leftist attack on intellectual diversity Never underestimate Joe Biden MORE (S.C.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCrist launches bid for Florida governor, seeking to recapture his old job The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Trump, Cheney trade jabs Rubio keeping door open on White House bid MORE (Fla.), and Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderThe Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality MORE (Tenn.), who is not seeking reelection.

But none of them are seen as being close to voting for any articles of impeachment, barring a major revelation of new information, say Senate GOP aides.

A senior Senate GOP aide said Collins, Romney and Murkowski are the only possible defectors “and the list ends there” unless dramatically new information emerges before a vote. 

“There is not a next tier, absent some new evidence,” said the aide. 

Other potential defectors on an impeachment vote are Republicans facing tough reelections such as Sens. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (Colo.), who is seeking another term in a state that voted for Clinton in 2016, and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArizona state senator announces bid for Kirkpatrick's seat Democratic Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick says she won't seek reelection Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (Ariz.), a top Democratic target.

Republican strategists argue that voting for articles of impeachment would hurt Gardner and McSally more than it would help them in 2020.

“Politically, it doesn’t benefit anybody because if you vote to impeach, the base abandons you and Democrats are never going to say, ‘Thank God you voted to impeach, you have my vote,’ and the moderates and independents don’t care about this,” said the Senate GOP aide. 

“For Gardner and McSally and [Sen. Thom] Tillis [N.C.] and [Sen. David] Perdue [Ga.] there is no net benefit to voting to convict on any of the charges because you will lose the loyalty of your base,” the aide said, referring to other Senate Republicans up for reelection.