Seven Republican senators crossed the political aisle Saturday to vote with Democrats in a failed bid to convict former President Donald Trump on a dubious charge of incitement.
The final vote, 55-43, fell short of the required two-thirds majority, meaning Trump has been acquitted and is therefore free to continue a relaxed life as a private citizen.
As for the seven Republicans — Sens. Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey — who voted against the wishes of the GOP base, their days of political misery are just beginning.
An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll published last month found that only a 17 percent minority of Republican voters blamed Trump “a great deal” for the Jan. 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol. Strike one.
A Gallup poll published last week found that 88 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents opposed convicting the former president. Strike two.
Another poll from last week, this one published by Vox, found that a 69 percent majority of GOP voters would “be less likely to vote for a political candidate in their state if that person found Trump guilty in the trial.” Strike three.
It’s clear that the GOP base was against convicting Trump, yet the seven senators voted against their wishes — and even doubled down on the sentiment afterward.
Here’s the statement that Burr — whose last-minute decision to convict came as a surprise — issued after the vote:
“The President promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election because he did not like the results. As Congress met to certify the election results, the President directed his supporters to go to the Capitol to disrupt the lawful proceedings required by the Constitution. When the crowd became violent, the President used his office to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault,” he said.
“As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict.”
Burr isn’t expected to run for reelection in 2022, so this decision won’t affect him too much. The same holds true of Toomey.
Nevertheless, state party officials in the senators’ states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania, respectively, slammed both senators in statements issued after their votes.
“North Carolina Republicans sent Senator Burr to the United States Senate to uphold the Constitution and his vote today to convict in a trial that he declared unconstitutional is shocking and disappointing,” Michael Whatley, the chair of the North Carolina Republican Party, said.
“I share the disappointment of many of our grassroots leaders and volunteers over Senator Toomey’s vote today .The vote to acquit was the constitutionally correct outcome,” Lawrence Tabas, the chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, added.
Meanwhile, Cassidy, who was just reelected to office last year, isn’t up for reelection til 2026 but is already facing hell on Earth, with the Republican Party of Louisiana voting unanimously to censure him for his decision to convict:
The only ones who’ve taken pleasure in the senators’ votes to convict are leftists like Bill Kristol, a former Republican who sold out all his principles because of Trump.
To the likes of Kristol, the seven senators are like the “The Magnificent Seven”:
Former President Trump is, for his part, pleased with the ultimate outcome. In a statement, he thanked the senators who voted to acquit for having “stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.”
Conversely, he slammed everybody who took part in “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.”
He also vowed that the Make America Great Again movement “has only just begun.”
Ironically, one could argue that the careers of the seven senators who voted to convict have just begun … to screech to a halt.