(AP) – Seven Republicans voted Saturday to convict former President Donald Trump in his Senate trial, easily the largest number of lawmakers to ever vote to find a president of their own party guilty at impeachment proceedings.
While lawmakers acquitted Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, they voted 57-43 to convict him — short of the two-thirds majority needed to find him guilty. Still, with seven Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in voting “guilty,” the Senate issued an unmistakable bipartisan chorus of condemnation of the former president that could have political implications for a GOP conflicted over its future.
“If I can’t say what I believe that our president should stand for, then why should I ask Alaskans to stand with me?” Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told reporters.
Besides Murkowski, other Republican senators voting against Trump were Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Underscoring the perils of affronting Trump and his legions of GOP loyalists, by late evening top Republicans from at least two of the defecting senators' states had blasted them.
Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas issued a statement saying he shared “the disappointment of many of our grassroots leaders and volunteers" over Toomey’s vote. Louisiana’s Republican Party said, “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms” Cassidy's vote and said its executive committee voted unanimously to censure him.
Democrats holding out long-shot hopes of convicting Trump would have needed 17 Republicans to prevail, which as expected proved an unreachable goal. That hope died after the influential Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he would vote to acquit because he believed lawmakers had no jurisdiction over a former president.
Even so, McConnell delivered searing words against Trump in a speech after the vote, saying the former president was “practically and morally responsible” for provoking the attack on lawmakers as they formally certified Trump's Electoral College defeat by Joe Biden. Five people died, and the House impeached Trump for inciting insurrection.