Former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on a charge of inciting the riot at the Capitol Jan. 6 begins with the battle lines clearly drawn. The partisan math makes it unlikely there will be the 67 votes necessary for a conviction. But at least a handful of Republican senators do appear to be in play to join what will likely be all the Democrats in voting to convict.
Forty-five of the Senate’s 50 Republicans have voted to declare the trial unconstitutional because Mr. Trump has left office. Most legal experts disagree with that argument, but it has been embraced by both the Trump defense team and even senators who believe he bears some responsibility for the riot, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Here are the most important Republican senators to watch during the second Trump impeachment trial.
Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah)
Mr. Romney has positioned himself as Mr. Trump’s highest-profile Republican opponent in Congress and was the only Republican to vote to convict him during the first impeachment trial last year. He has said he believes it is constitutional to try a former president and has left little doubt that he plans to vote to convict this time, too. “I believe that what is being alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable offense. If not, what is?” he said last month. Mr. Romney’s stance will make his actions worth watching when the chamber debates possible motions during the trial and when senators get the chance to ask questions of each side.
Sen. Susan Collins (Maine)
Ms. Collins has long held Trump at arm’s-length, especially when running successfully for a fifth term last year. Ms. Collins frequently falls back on a refrain that as a juror she can’t comment on impeachment proceedings until she gets to hear from the prosecution and the defense, but she has sharply criticized Trump’s conduct. “He incited them in the first place” and later failed to quell the violence by his supporters “by repeating his grievances and telling the rioters that he knew how they felt,” she wrote in a first-person account of Jan. 6 for the Bangor Daily News.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
Ms. Murkowski called out Mr. Trump in the immediate aftermath of the riot. She drew a clear distinction between the first impeachment, which she said was “partisan from the beginning,” and the present one, when she praised the House for proceeding “swiftly, and I believe, appropriately, with impeachment.” She also voted to affirm the constitutionality of the process and has said she is eager for the GOP to rid itself of Mr. Trump’s influence. “If the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me,” she told the Anchorage Daily News last month.
Source: WSJ – US News