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GOP senators reject punishing Romney for impeachment vote

Republican senators quickly shot down talk of punishing Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed MORE (Utah) after the party's 2012 presidential nominee voted to convict President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power.

Romney announced shortly before the votes on the House-passed articles that he would be the only GOP senator to move to convict Trump, saying the president was "guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust." 

His decision sparked an immediate backlash from from top Trump allies, including Donald Trump Jr., who publicly called for Romney to “be expelled" from the Republican Party.

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But that demand, or a formal punishment from within the caucus, was quickly ruled out by Romney's GOP colleagues. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCan Manchin answer his predecessor's call on voting rights? Biden at Sen. John Warner's funeral: He 'gave me confidence' Democrats' narrow chance to retain control after 2022 MORE (R-Ky.) noted that he was "surprised and disappointed" by Romney's decision, but indicated that he would not face a formal punishment. 

"I think Senator Romney has been largely supportive of most everything we've tried to accomplish," he told reporters shortly after the vote.

Asked how long Romney would be in the doghouse, McConnell laughed and added: "We don't have any doghouses here. The most important vote is the next vote." 

Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunIU parents protest school's vaccine mandates Rick Scott introduces bill banning 'vaccine passports' for domestic flights Braun-McConnell bill would protect Americans from IRS surveillance MORE (R-Ind.) dismissed suggestions that Romney be expelled from the party as "silly talk."

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Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office GOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Trump dismisses climate change, calls on Biden to fire joint chiefs MORE (R-N.D.) also said he didn't agree with calls to remove him. 

"I don't really know how you expel someone from the Republican Party. ... I'm glad that Mitt is a Republican. I'm disappointed that he's wrong on this vote," Cramer said. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Cornyn calls on Biden and Harris to visit southern border: 'Y'all come visit' Progressive groups launch .5M ad buy to pressure Sinema on filibuster MORE (R-Texas), a top adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), added that the president should focus on his acquittal, not Romney’s dissenting vote. 

“I think that’s a better thing to focus on,” he said.

Asked about a formal punishment from the Senate GOP conference, Cornyn also appeared to rule that out. 

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“We always have instances where individual senators will vote differently from the rest of the conference but I don’t think that retaliation is called for,” he said.

The Senate voted to acquit Trump on both charges, falling well short of the two-thirds needed to remove him from office.

Romney was one of three GOP senators who were viewed as potential swing votes on whether to convict Trump on the two House-passed articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 

The two others, Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP torpedoes election bill; infrastructure talks hit snag White House digs in as infrastructure talks stall MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP torpedoes election bill; infrastructure talks hit snag White House digs in as infrastructure talks stall Schumer vows next steps after 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE (Alaska), both announced earlier this week that they would vote to acquit Trump on both charges. 

But they each indicated on Wednesday that they respected Romney's decision and did not think he should be punished. Collins, asked if Romney should be removed from the party, told reporters "of course not." 

"I think each of us had to come to our own place and I respect his decision," Murkowksi said. 

Asked if he should be removed from the party, she added: "Nope, not at all."