Like many Americans, I watched the Senate impeachment trial with great trepidation while wondering whether the Republican senators would be able to withstand the daily barrage of lies from the Democrat impeachment managers, Democrat senators, and Democrat operatives in the legacy media. Twelve sitting Republican senators did not endorse Candidate Trump in 2016, as discussed here in a December article. Would they cave to the pressure, or would the righteousness of the President’s case as presented by his legal team bring them into the light?
I was on tenterhooks for days during the runup to the vote on witnesses on Friday, but the dam began to break as, one by one, several wavering Republican senators announced that they were going to vote against witnesses. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was the key announcement, as Willard Romney (RINO-UT) and Susan Collins (RINO-ME) had previously announced that there were going to vote with the Democrats in favor of breaking precedent and turning the Senate into an investigative body instead of a jury. The final 51-49 vote against new witnesses was a vast relief although it is foolish to think that the Democrats and legacy media have just thrown in the towel and won’t try other theatrics to derail matters between now and the final vote on acquittal on Wednesday.
That said, it is very instructive to examine the recent public statements of a few Republican senators who were undecided about witnesses until the very end in order to discern their motivations. In doing so, it is apparent that most of them really understood the hyper-partisan nature of this impeachment and were appalled by the Democrats’ political attacks and attempts at destroying Senate traditions and prerogatives as defined by the Constitution.
The first ray of sunshine began with Martha McSally’s (R-AZ) declaration on 29 Jan:
I have heard enough. It is time to vote.
— Martha McSally (@SenMcSallyAZ) January 30, 2020
I have heard enough. It is time to vote.
The House Democrats have repeatedly claimed their case has overwhelming evidence—the same House Democrats who could have handled this matter through a bipartisan oversight process.
A dangerous precedent will be set if we condone a rushed, partisan House impeachment with no due process that shuts down the Senate for weeks or months to do the House’s work.
After two weeks in the Senate, 13 witnesses, and 28,000 pages of evidence, it is time for the Senate to vote and return its focus to the priorities of the American people…
McSally nailed it! A “rushed, partisan House impeachment with no due process.”
Next came an official public statement from Lamar Alexander (R-TN) early on 30 Jan. After claiming that in his view that the House managers “proved their case against the President,” he concluded his announcement with these words:
The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did. I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.
The Senate has spent nine long days considering this ‘mountain’ of evidence, the arguments of the House managers and the president’s lawyers, their answers to senators’ questions and the House record. Even if the House charges were true, they do not meet the Constitution’s ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors’ standard for an impeachable offense.
The framers believed that there should never, ever be a partisan impeachment. That is why the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate for conviction. Yet not one House Republican voted for these articles. If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist. It would create the weapon of perpetual impeachment to be used against future presidents whenever the House of Representatives is of a different political party.
Our founding documents provide for duly elected presidents who serve with ‘the consent of the governed,’ not at the pleasure of the United States Congress. Let the people decide.
At least Alexander got the most important part of his statement right – “If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart ….” Far from being a Trump political ally, even he was able to discern the rabidly partisan and ahistorical nature of the Democrats’ impeachment gambit and refused to be a part of turning impeachment into a tactical political weapon to be used against future presidents. Good on ya, Senator!
Then came the key and deciding announcement from Lisa Murkowski later on 30 Jan:
(5/5) I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded our institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another.
We are sadly at a low point of division in this country.
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) January 31, 2020
I worked for a fair, honest, and transparent process, modeled after the Clinton trial, to provide ample time for both sides to present their cases, ask thoughtful questions, and determine whether we need more.
The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena.
Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything.
It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed. It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice.
I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded our institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another. We are sadly at a low point of division in this country.
Murkowski’s comments were even more pointed than the others. She also zeroed in on the hyper-partisan nature of the proceedings but went further in castigating her Senate Democrat colleagues for wanting to further politicize the process and break norms by dragging the Supreme Court into the process while “attacking the Chief Justice.” That last item was apparently the tipping point in her decision-making process. Bravo!
Although never considered to have contemplated voting with the Democrats on witnesses, Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) comments on Twitter on Friday warrant careful reading, too, as he has been highly critical of President Trump from the 2016 presidential campaign onward. These might be the best comments of all of the squishy Republican senators and give us a window in to what the ENTIRE Republican caucus – less Romney and Collins – really thought about the impeachment trial:
#SenateTrial Day 10:
Final arguments 11am Monday. Final vote Wednesday at 4pm.
Last March Rep. Schiff said there was “little to be gained by putting the country through” the “wrenching experience” of a partisan impeachment.
But then they decided to do it anyway.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 1, 2020
The House admitted they didn’t try to enforce testimony of witnesses in court because it would tie them up in litigation for a year. But then spent weeks demanding the Senate do it now. We were never going to play this stupid game with them
The same people to say “how dare Trump disagree with our intelligence professionals” are also the ones doubting the “intelligence professionals” on Soleimani planning an imminent attack.
The poll tested “stealing the election” line was also a joke. Was Trump trying to tamper with voting equipment or something? I wanted to laugh every time they said it but I think laughing was against the Senate impeachment rules.
[M]ost obnoxious argument was the “I have secret information that’s damning, but I can’t divulge it” Total crap. We have access to the same information & you don’t have squat. If you did it would be leaked. Just like the mole at NSC illegally leaking portions of Bolton’s book.
Bottom line is despite not initially wanting to do it they were bullied into impeachment by radical far left voices they are afraid of. Then they fell in love with the case & the cameras & the adoration of the media & forgot the damage impeachment inflicts on the country.
Clearly, Rubio was paying close attention to the Democrat managers’ presentation before the Senate! And he definitely nailed the real reason why there was a House impeachment and Senate trial to begin with – “they were bullied into impeachment by radical far left voices they are afraid of.“ Absolutely right! And you can be assured that if Rubio was willing to state this publicly, then there were a lot of other Republican senators who drew the same conclusions. And that gives me comfort that the Republican caucus is not going to let any new “bombshells’ that the Democrats and their media operatives produce between now and Wednesday derail the process.