The GOP senators likely to vote for Trump’s conviction
Senators say as many as a half-dozen GOP lawmakers could vote with Democrats to convict former President Trump for inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6 after the powerful presentations by impeachment managers, including chilling footage of the attack on the Capitol.
That would not be enough to secure a conviction of Trump, something that would require at least 17 Republican votes assuming every Democrat in the chamber votes to impeach. But it would be the largest bipartisan Senate majority in history for a presidential impeachment vote.
Here’s a look at the six GOP votes seen as being in play.
Mitt Romney (R-Utah)
Romney is viewed as a lock to vote for Trump’s conviction after he was the only Republican senator to vote to remove Trump from office after his first impeachment trial last year.
Previously unreleased security footage played on the second day of the trial showed Romney narrowly missed walking into a crowd of angry rioters thanks to the quick thinking of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who redirected Romney away from the violent crowd as it marched toward the chamber.
Romney, who is up for reelection in 2024, has been one of Trump’s most outspoken Republican critics throughout his presidency. He declared on Jan. 6 after the rioters were cleared from the Capitol that “what happened today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States.”
He said Wednesday he was shocked watching videos of the violent clashes between rioters and Capitol Police that left Officer Brian Sicknick dead and more than 100 officers injured. Officers suffered smashed spinal disks, stab wounds, cracked ribs, brain injuries and a lost eye.
“It tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes. That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional,” Romney said after watching the videos.
Romney thanked Goodman Wednesday evening, telling him “how much I appreciated him making sure I was out of harm’s way.”
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Murkowski called on Trump to resign after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and was on the fence about whether to vote to convict him during the first impeachment trial.
On Wednesday, Murkowski declared that Trump’s political career is effectively over.
“After the American public sees the full story laid out here … I don’t see how Donald Trump could be reelected to the presidency again,” Murkowski told reporters after day two.
Murkowski has emerged as one of the most plainspoken critics of Trump in recent months, telling reporters as early as June that she was struggling over whether to vote for Trump. She endorsed former Defense Secretary James Mattis’s criticism of Trump as a leader who has tried to divide the country.
She acknowledged last month she didn’t vote for Trump and has previously said “if the Republican Party continues to be the party of Trump, I’m not quite sure where I fit.”
After watching the House impeachment managers’ timeline of events, juxtaposing Trump’s statements and tweets with the violent clashes between the rioters and police, Murkowski told reporters: “I’m angry, I’m disturbed, I’m sad.”
“The house managers are making a very strong case for a timeline that laid out very clearly the words that were used, when he used them, how he used to really build the anger, the violence that we saw here in this Capitol,” she said.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.)
Sasse, who didn’t support Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 or 2020, released a video last week in which he responded to a move by Nebraska state Republican officials to censure him by excoriating Trump’s actions in the lead-up to Jan. 6.
Sasse, who just won reelection by winning all of Nebraska’s 93 counties, last week said the “shameful mob violence to disrupt a constitutionally mandated meeting of the Congress to affirm … [a] peaceful transfer of power” was a direct result of Trump spreading lies about widespread election fraud.
“It happened because the president lied to you. He lied about the election results for 60 days, despite losing 60 straight court challenges, many of them handed down by wonderful Trump-appointed judges,” he said.
“He then riled a mob that attacked the Capitol, many chanting ‘Hang Pence.’ If that president were a Democrat, we both know how you’d respond,” Sasse said to his Republican critics back home.
Sasse, who prides himself as a conservative devoted to defending the Constitution, has already twice voted to reject arguments that holding an impeachment trial for Trump now that he is out of office is unconstitutional and shouldn’t proceed.
Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Collins just won reelection by a 9-point margin to a fifth Senate term in a state that President Biden carried by 9 percentage points over Trump.
Collins has called out Trump at times but not nearly as vocally as Romney or Murkowski.
She voted with Romney at Trump’s first impeachment trial to call new witnesses — a move the overwhelming majority of the Senate GOP conference opposed.
In her final campaign debate, she declined to say whether Trump deserved to be elected to a second term.
While protesters were storming the Capitol, Collins called on Trump to “give a forceful message denouncing the violence and telling protesters to go home” and said at the time the president “does bear responsibility for working up the crowd and inciting this mob.”
She called the House impeachment managers’ day-two presentation “riveting.”
“I’m not going to make any final decision or any decision at all until I hear the other side, but the presentations were compelling,” she said.
She said the managers presented “additional detail that just reinforces my belief that it was a terrible day for our country and that there’s no doubt that it was an attempt to disrupt the counting of the electoral votes.”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
Toomey has announced he will retire from politics at the end of 2022 and represents a state that Biden narrowly won in November.
A well-known fiscal conservative who clashed with Trump over his trade policies, Toomey has stood at the forefront of Republicans calling out Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud.
Toomey blamed Trump for the violence of Jan. 6 when he spoke on the Senate floor after Capitol Police finally restored order and allowed Congress to continue tallying Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.
“We saw bloodshed, because a demagogue chose to spread falsehoods and sow distrust of his own fellow Americans. Let’s not abet such deception. Let’s reject this motion,” he said on the floor, urging his colleagues to reject objections to the electoral tally.
Toomey told Fox News a few days later that he thought Trump committed “impeachable offenses.”
He praised the House impeachment managers Tuesday for making a “persuasive” case while characterizing Trump’s defense team as not very persuasive.
“I think they had a weaker case to start with,” he said.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.)
Cassidy stunned colleagues by voting Tuesday with Collins, Murkowski, Romney, Sasse and Toomey on Tuesday to allow the impeachment trial to proceed after listening to two hours of arguments from Trump’s defense team, whom he called “disorganized.”
His vote was surprising after he voted with 44 other Senate Republicans two weeks ago in favor of a motion sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) declaring the impeachment trial of a former president unconstitutional.
Cassidy was appalled by what he called Trump’s “unfocused” legal defense on the first day.
“It was disorganized, random, had nothing,” he said.
The political backlash was swift as the Republican Party committee of his home parish voted unanimously to censure him. The Louisiana Republican Party also rebuked him, saying it was “profoundly disappointed” in his decision to move ahead with the impeachment trial of a private citizen.
Cassidy stood his ground Wednesday evening.
“I took an oath to uphold the Constitution. A constitutional conservative takes that oath seriously. So if I’m here to uphold the Constitution, I’m upholding it. I’m doing my job,” he said.
He took careful notes on a legal pad on Wednesday and was seen shaking his head when the House managers showed video of rioter Richard “Bigo” Barnett, who was armed with a stun gun, showing off an envelope he swiped from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office.