All but one Senate Republican voted today to acquit President Donald Trump, including Alaska Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski.
While Sullivan made clear that he planned to acquit Trump before the House even transmitted its articles of impeachment to the Senate, Murkowski made statements to the press that she was on the fence before she ultimately voted against calling for witnesses and clearing the president.
All Democrats voted to convict the president on both articles of impeachment. Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney voted to convict Trump on charges that Trump had attempted to use Congress-approved aide to Ukraine to gain an advantage in the 2020 presidential elections.
“There’s no question that the president asked a foreign power to investigate his political foe,” Romney said ahead of the floor statement he delivered Wednesday. “That he did so for a political purpose, and that he pressured Ukraine to get them to help or to lead in this effort. My own view is that there’s not much I can think of that would be a more egregious assault on our Constitution than trying to corrupt an election to maintain power. And that’s what the president did.”
Murkowski spoke about her intent to clear Trump on Monday, calling Trump’s actions “shameful and wrong” but that they fell short of requiring his removal from office.
Though she criticized Trump’s actions, saying that “His personal interests do not take precedence over those of this great nation.” She ultimately stood behind a common line from Republicans that the House impeachment process had been rushed and inadequate, an error that she ultimately declined to correct when she voted against calling witnesses last week.
She acknowledged that Congress does have the power to impeach the president—something the president’s legal team said was impermissible because Trump’s re-election would be in the public interest—but said it can’t be used in all cases. She said the decision about whether Trump violated his oath of office by attempting to undermine fair elections will be decided by the voters later this year (in the very election the president attempted to undermine).
“The voters will pronounce a verdict in nine months, and we must trust their judgment,” she said.
Romney, who faced swift political reprisal for being the lone Republican to vote to convict, said such excuses are insufficient and an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty.
“The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president. Hamilton explained that the Founders’ decision to invest senators with this obligation rather than leave it to voters was intended to minimize—to the extent possible—the partisan sentiments of the public,” he said. “This verdict is ours to render. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty. The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a ‘high crime and misdemeanor.’
Yes, he did.”