Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, speaks during a news conference after a weekly caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Senators took turns explaining their stances on whether President Donald Trump’s impeachment was warranted on Tuesday, the day before they vote on a likely acquittal that would bring the trial to a culmination.
Republican senators sought to convince their colleagues to acquit the president, echoing the same arguments that Trump’s legal team made when laying out their case on the floor.
Democrats primarily stressed the evidence uncovered by House committees and implored their Republican colleagues to vote with them.
The Senate is scheduled to hold a vote to acquit or convict Trump on Wednesday afternoon. It is highly unlikely that the Senate, with its GOP majority, will vote to remove Trump from office.
With the spectre of Trump’s removal taken off the table, speculation has focused instead on whether moderate senators will vote with their parties or not. As of Tuesday evening, three senators had yet to reveal how they plan to vote Wednesday: Democrat Doug Jones of Alabama, Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Another moderate lawmaker, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of just two Republican senators who broke with the majority of her party Friday when she voted to admit additional evidence in the trial, said on the Senate floor that she will vote to acquit Trump on both articles of impeachment.
“I do not believe that the House has met its burden of showing that the president’s conduct, however flawed, warrants the extreme step of immediate removal from office, nor does the record support the assertion by the House managers that the president must not remain in office one moment longer,” Collins said.
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has openly sided with Trump since the House concluded its own investigation in December. On the floor Wednesday, he once again tore into House Democrats and their investigation, urging senators to vote for Trump’s acquittal to “keep factional fever from boiling over and scorching our republic.”
“Impeachment is not some magical constitutional Trump card that melts away the separations between the branches of government,” McConnell said. “Any House that felt it needed to take this radical step owed the country the most fair and painstaking process, the most rigorous investigation, the most bipartisan effort. Instead we got the opposite.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., used his time to ask a question that Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read aloud on Friday during the question-and-answer portion of the trial.
Paul’s question included the name of a federal official who has been alleged to be the anonymous whistleblower whose bombshell complaint about Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spurred Democrats to support an impeachment inquiry.
Amid the Senate discussion, Trump told reporters he is “not bitter” toward House reps who voted to impeach him in December. On Tuesday he tweeted about approval rating and has tweeted about the impeachment “hoax” feverishly in the last months while proceedings went on.
Trump will deliver the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night, and while the White House has said the word “impeachment” is not in his speech text, it’s difficult to imagine that the president will gloss over the most significant threat to his presidency that he has faced so far.
Trump will be sitting just feet away from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the architects of his impeachment, and the audience will include hundreds of House members who voted to approve the articles of impeachment against him last year.
The House voted on Dec. 18 to pass two articles of impeachment against him, charging that Trump abused the power of the presidency and obstructed Congress when he withheld nearly $400 million in congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine last summer, then stonewalled a congressional investigation into his actions. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.