All eyes turn to a few Republican senators as impeachment nears vote
WASHINGTON — Most every Senate juror has said they will listen to the evidence in Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial, but most minds were likely made up before the trial began. Democrats would need a minimum of 17 Republicans to vote with them to convict Trump of incitement of insurrection, and that appears unlikely.
Still, Democrats say they are holding out hope that they will win over enough Republicans to convict the former president for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, in which five people died. If Trump were convicted, the Senate could take a second vote to ban him from running for office again. A final vote is likely on Saturday.
Here’s a look at the Republicans whom Democrats are eyeing as they make final arguments in the case:
The frequent Trump critics
Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine have been clear that they believe Trump incited the riots on Jan. 6. While none of them are locks to vote for conviction, they have joined with Democrats twice to vote against GOP efforts to dismiss the trial.
Collins said after the riots that Trump does “bear responsibility for working up the crowd and inciting this mob.” Murkowski called on Trump to resign after the attack on the Capitol, telling a local paper three days later that “I want him out. He has caused enough damage.”
Romney tweeted on Jan. 6: “What happened at the U.S. Capitol today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States.” During the trial, the Democrats showed video of Romney narrowly escaping the mob, redirected by a Capitol Police officer as he unknowingly ran toward the violent crowd.
Sasse said that Trump had “lied to” Americans and the “consequences are now found in five dead Americans and a Capitol building that’s in shambles.” In a recent video, he said Republican politics shouldn’t be about the “weird worship of one dude.”
Murkowski, Collins and Sasse voted to acquit Trump during his first impeachment trial, in which Democrats charged that he had abused his power by urging the president of Ukraine to investigate then-candidate Joe Biden. Romney was the sole GOP guilty vote, leaving the Democrats far short of conviction.
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring from the Senate in 2022, has also voted twice with Democrats to move forward with the trial. Like Murkowski, he called for Trump’s resignation after the riots, saying that would be the best way to “get this person in the rearview mirror for us.” Toomey had also aggressively pushed back on Trump’s false assertions that he had won Pennsylvania and other states in the election.
Three other GOP senators have said they will not run again in two years, potentially freeing them up to vote against Trump and anger base voters in the party