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A total of seven Republican senators voted to convict Donald Trumpat his second Senate impeachment trial – Richard Burr, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Bill Cassidy, and Pat Toomey
In a stunning rebuke of the former president, the seven Republicans joined with their 50 Democratic colleagues to vote 57-34 in favour of finding Mr Trump guilty in the upper chamber.
But because the chamber required a two-thirds majority to convict, Mr Trump, for the second time in barely 12 months, was acquitted.
The scale of the Republican rejection of the president’s arguments and those of his lawyers, was unprecedented when compared to previous impeachments.
No Democratic senators voted to impeach Bill Clinton in 1999, and only a lone Republican – Mr Romney – voted with Democrats to convict Mr Trump duding his first impeachment hearing last year.
Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty. pic.twitter.com/ute0xPc4BH
— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@SenBillCassidy) February 13, 2021
One of the Republicans who voted to impeach, and who surprised some observers with his decision, was Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. He said he had voted to convict the former president “because he is guilty”.
“Our constitution and our country is more important than any one person,” he said. “I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Richard Burr of North Carolina, who said he voted to convict Mr Trump because “guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government”.
“I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary,” he said. “By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
It appeared that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was possibly considering voting to convict, something that was being speculated about right up to Saturday morning when he left it be known he would vote to acquit, though it was “a close call”.
Having voted not to convict Mr Trump, Mr McConnell rose to his feet and delivered a damning condemnation of the former president, accusing him of a “disgraceful dereliction of duty”.
“They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth. Because he was angry. He had lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty,” McConnell said.
He added: “There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”
Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, said an impeachment trial was a “a public declaration of what a president’s oath of office means and what behaviour that oath demands of presidents in the future”.
He added: “But here’s the sad reality: If we were talking about a Democratic president, most Republicans and most Democrats would simply swap sides. Tribalism is a hell of a drug, but our oath to the Constitution means we’re constrained to the facts. Here are the three key points to this debate.”