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The Canadian press

At the end of the impeachment process, the GOP senators face a major decision

WASHINGTON – Most of the Senate jurors have stated that they will hear the evidence in Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial, but most decisions were likely made prior to the trial. It would take Democrats at least 17 Republicans to vote with them and convict Trump for incitement to insurrection, and that seems unlikely. Still, the Democrats are hoping they can win enough Republicans to convict the former president for his role in the January 6th riot in the Capitol that killed five people. If Trump were convicted, the Senate could cast a second vote to ban him from running again. A final vote is likely on Saturday. Here’s a look at the Republicans watching the Democrats make final arguments for the case: THE FREQUENT TRUMPING REVIEW Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Susan Collins of Maine have come to terms with it clear I think Trump instigated the January 6 riot. While neither of them have the opportunity to vote for a conviction, they have teamed up with Democrats twice to vote against the GOP’s efforts to stand down from the trial. Collins said in the wake of the riots that Trump “has a responsibility to rearm the crowd and stimulate this mob”. Murkowski urged Trump to resign after the attack on the Capitol and three days later told a local newspaper: “I want him out. He’s done enough damage. Romney tweeted on Jan. 6, “What happened at the US Capitol today was a riot instigated by the President of the United States.” During the trial, the Democrats showed a video of Romney narrowly escaping the crowd and being rerouted by a Capitol Police officer as he unwittingly walked towards the violent crowd. Sasse said Trump “lied” to the Americans and that “the consequences are now five Americans dead and a ruined Capitol”. In a recently released video, he said Republican politics shouldn’t be about “strange worship of a man.” Murkowski, Collins and Sasse voted to acquit Trump during his first impeachment trial, in which Democrats accused of abusing his power by asking the President of Ukraine to investigate then-candidate Joe Biden. Romney was the only GOP guilt that left the Democrats far behind conviction. HEADED OUT Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, who is retiring from the Senate in 2022, has also voted twice with the Democrats to move the process forward. Like Murkowski, he called for Trump to resign after the riots, saying it was the best way to “get this person in the rearview mirror for us”. Toomey had also aggressively pushed back Trump’s false claims that he won Pennsylvania and other states in the elections. Three other GOP Senators have announced that they will not run in two years’ time, potentially freeing them to vote against Trump and the party’s anger base voters – Senator Rob Portman from Ohio, Senator Richard Burr from North Carolina and Senator Richard Shelby from Alabama. All three voted to oppose the process, but Portman says he is still open to belief. Burr said Thursday that he would not comment on the process at all. Shelby said this week that the impeachment executives had a “strength” that Trump could have acted earlier to stop the violence, but claimed the process was unconstitutional with Trump now out of office. CASSIDY AS WILD CARD Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, who won re-election in 2020 by a wide margin, voted two weeks ago for a GOP attempt to reject the process. But he changed his voice this week and said Trump’s lawyers did a “terrible” job, which led to the case that the process was unconstitutional. Cassidy, who took extensive notes throughout the process, said Friday that the managers raised some “fascinating questions” during their two days of arguing. He said he hoped Trump’s lawyers would reply to them thoroughly and that he was “trying to approach it objectively”. During the question-and-answer session of the trial on Friday afternoon, Cassidy asked Trump’s attorneys about a conversation the then president had with Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville on Jan. 6, shortly after Vice President Mike Pence was evacuated from the Senate. Tuberville says he told Trump that Pence had been wiped out and made it clear that Trump probably knew of the danger at the time, although he subsequently tweeted criticism of Pence for not trying to overturn the election. Cassidy asked lawyers if this showed that Trump “tolerated the intimidation of Vice President Pence”. Attorney Michael van der Veen dismissed Tuberville’s report as “hearsay”, an answer Cassidy later said was insufficient. THUNE TAKES TRUMP’S WARMTH Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican of the Senate, rejected Trump’s attempts to question the confirmation of President Biden’s election victory. He predicted that the effort would “sink like a shot dog? in the Senate. That comment sparked an angry reaction from the former president, who urged Governor Kristi Noem to run against Thune in a GOP primary, an idea she immediately rejected. Nevertheless, Thune voted twice to reject the case. He said on Friday that he was open and that he could be open to a decision of no confidence if Trump were acquitted. “I know some of my colleagues who have seen at least some resolutions that I think could find support,” said Thune. EYES ON McCONNELL Republican Senate Chairman Mitch McConnell has twice voted to dismiss the trial, indicating that he will ultimately vote in favor of acquittal. But he has also said that Trump “provoked” the mob that was “fed” with lies. Shortly after the attack, McConnell privately announced to his staff that he was through with Trump and publicly said he was undecided on impeachment. He has told Republicans that the decision on Trump’s guilt will be a conscience vote. His neutral stance contrasts sharply with his leadership of the first trial, when he largely protected Trump and defied Democrats’ requests to call witnesses. ___ Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press

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