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6 Republican Senators Voted Trial Constitutional

6 Republican Senators Voted Trial Constitutional
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., talks with reporters as he leaves the U.S. Capitol after the first day of Trump's second impeachment trial in the Senate, Tuesday. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)

Tuesday, 09 February 2021 08:25 PM

Six Republican senators crossed the aisle to vote with all 50 Democrats Tuesday to declare the second impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump constitutional.

The 56-44 vote clears the way for the trial to begin on Wednesday. It also suggests, however, that Dems face an uphill battle to win over the 17 Republicans they'd need to find Trump guilty of incitement to insurrection over the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

In what was essentially a test vote in January, five Republicans had voted in favor of constitutionality, an issue raised over the fact that Trump is no longer in office and is a private citizen.

GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana became number 6 on Tuesday after hearing opening arguments from the Democratic impeachment managers and Trump's defense team.

So who were the six? Cassidy; Sen. Susan Collins of Maine; Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah; Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska; Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Cassidy said after the vote that the House managers' presentation was a "very good opening" and that they made strong arguments, CNN reported.

The impeachment managers showed a video of rioters breaching the U.S. Capitol and attacking police officers interspersed with words from Trump's speech to rallygoers just prior to the attack. Democrats have contended that Trump, renewing his claims of election fraud, whipped up the crowd, exhorting them to fight to protect their democracy.

"House managers were focused, they were organized," and "made a compelling argument," Cassidy said. But, he added, "President Trump's team were disorganized. They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand and when they talked about it, they kind of glided over, almost as if they were embarrassed of their arguments."

"I couldn't figure out where he was going, spent 45 minutes going somewhere, but I don't think he helped with us better understanding where he was coming from on the constitutionality of this," Murkowski told CNN. "And I felt that (fellow Trump attorney David) Schoen did a ... better job but I think they sure had a missed opportunity with their first, first attorney there."

She was speaking of Bruce Castor, who many observers, including former Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz on Newsmax TV, criticized for being perplexing and not focusing on constitutional arguments.

CNN reported that Trump himself was watching the proceedings and was unhappy with Castor's opening argument.

"Trump was almost screaming as Castor made meandering arguments that struggled to get at the heart of his defense team's argument, which is supposed to be over the constitutionality of holding a trial for a president no longer in office," CNN reported.

A total of 17 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats would be needed to convict the former president.

Here is a closer look at the six Republicans who voted with Democrats to proceed with the trial:


The Nebraska senator handily won reelection in 2020 and is considered a potential contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He publicly denounced Trump's claims of widespread electoral fraud and said there was no basis to object to Democrat Joe Biden's Nov. 3 victory.


The Louisiana senator changed his vote from his earlier one, backing arguments on Tuesday that the trial was constitutional. Cassidy told reporters after the House impeachment managers presented their side that they had "a very good opening."


Murkowski of Alaska became the first U.S. senator in 50 years to win an election with a write-in campaign in 2010 after losing in the Republican primary. She called for Trump to resign after his followers rioted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to disrupt the formal certification of the election by Congress.


Romney, a Utah senator and the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, has been a vocal critic of Trump. In 2020, Romney was the only Republican senator to vote for conviction during Trump's first impeachment trial.


The Pennsylvania senator announced in October 2020 he would not be seeking re-election. He said in television interviews Trump committed "impeachable offenses" and called on him to resign after the Jan. 6 attack.


The Maine centrist was the only Republican senator re-elected in 2020 in a state also won by Biden. She said Trump had incited the Jan. 6 riot. 

Reuters contributed to this report.

© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Six Republican Senators crossed the aisle to vote with all 50 Democrats Tuesday to declare the second impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump constitutional.
Tuesday, 09 February 2021 08:25 PM
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