GOP Senator Flips At Last Minute & Votes To Advance Impeachment

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On Tuesday, six Republican Senators voted in favor of moving forward with the impeachment trial proceedings against ex-President Donald Trump, which began earlier in the day weeks after the Democrat-led House impeached him on a charge of incitement of insurrection. On January 6, a mob of the then-president’s supporters stormed the Capitol building while members of Congress were gathered inside and working through the process of the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college victory, and these rioters proceeded under the explicit pretense of the lie from Trump that the 2020 presidential election was rigged for Biden.

The six Republicans who voted in favor of moving forward with the trial included Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), Ben Sasse (Neb.), and Bill Cassidy (La.). When the Senate recently voted on a similar measure, Cassidy voted against moving forward, and he was the only Senator who changed his recorded stance on the issue between the earlier vote and the one on Tuesday. Trump allies have alleged that moving forward with the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office, but as House impeachment case managers have made clear, there is no “January exception” that allows presidents to escape accountability for impeachable offenses if they commit the acts in question without enough time left in their tenure to hold a Senate trial.

Cassidy harshly criticized the spectacle that Trump’s own legal team put on during Tuesday’s proceedings. Trump lawyer Bruce Castor attracted a lot of attention for his rambling diatribe in which he — among other things — praised the voice of the late Senator Everett Dirksen, spoke nostalgically about record players, called Nebraska a “judicial thinking place,” and told Senators how great that he thinks they are. Cassidy commented as follows:

‘The House managers were focused, they were organized… they made a compelling argument. President Trump’s team, they were disorganized, they did everything they could but talk about the question at hand. If I’m an impartial juror and one side is doing a great job and the other side is doing a terrible job on the issue at hand, as an impartial juror I’m going to vote for the side that did a good job… Disorganized, random. [Trump’s lawyers] talked about many things but they didn’t talk about the issue at hand.’

Cassidy wasn’t the only one who criticized the spectacle. Lisa Murkowski, another Senator who could be seen as a potential vote in favor of conviction, said that she “was really stunned at the first attorney who presented for former President Trump,” adding that she “couldn’t figure out where he was going.” Susan Collins, who occupies a similar ideological space as Murkowski and like the Alaska Senator also voted in favor of moving forward with the trial, added that she “was perplexed by the first attorney, who did not seem to make any arguments at all, which was an unusual approach to take.”