Trump Acquitted. Significance?
14 February 2021
President Trump was not impeached because it needs a two thirds majority of US Senators and the Democrats and Republicans have 50 each, with the Vice President having a casting vote. So 13 Republicans would have had to vote for the impeachment, and only 7 did so. 57 to 43 was not two-thirds.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that Trump could not be impeached as he was no longer President, but this was because the Senate delayed the debate while he was, so it looked like a convenient cop-out. Whether it was ‘loyalty to the Republican party’ is a moot question. In practical terms, Trump has a lot of support at the grass roots of the Republican party, and if he directs his supporters to oppose a Senator’s pre-selection next time it will be likely to cost them their seat. So they were willing to toe the line that the election was rigged, and now vote that Trump did not incite supporters to storm the Capitol. It is remarkable that they were in the Chamber when the Capital building was stormed, and the Senators were in physical danger, but now they decline to condemn Trump.
It is worth looking at the Republicans who did have the courage to cross the floor:
Mitt Romney of Utah was an Independent until 1993, and a Mormon. He stood as the Republican Presidential Candidate against Barack Obama in 2012, and was elected to the Senate in 2019. He is 73 now, but has probably a very strong base.
Bill Cassidy MD, aged 64 was a Democrat who changed to the Republicans in 2001. He was the only Republican Senator who did not challenge the result of the 2020 Presidential election and was condemned by his Louisiana Republican party for this stance, even prior to his voting for Trump’s impeachment. He was elected in 2020, so will face the voters again in 2024.
Susan Collins of Maine aged 68 was elected in 1996, and is the longest-serving Republican woman Senator, most recently re-elected in 2020. She declined to support the bill to repeal Obama’s ‘Affordable Care Act’ and also declined to support the nomination of conservative judge Amy Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Lisa Murkowsi of Alaska aged 63 has been in the Senate since 1998, having followed her father into her seat but via a write-in vote, having been defeated in the pre-selection. A survey showed her to be the second most liberal Republican Senator after Susan Collins. She intends to run for a 4th term in 2022, but it has been tipped in Newsweek that Sarah Palin will stand against her in the next preselection.
Ben Sasse of Nebraska aged 48 has taken a strong stand against Trump and effectively bet his political career on what is currently not a popular stand in his State, though he paints himself as a strong conservative.
Richard Burr of North Carolina aged 65 surprised colleagues by voting against Trump. He was elected in 2005, but he had announced in 2016 that he would not seek a 4th term, so preselection is irrelevant for him.
Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania aged 59 was elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, then the Senate in 2011 and 2016, but has said that he would not stand again.
So it looks as if there are very few Senate Republicans who will put the national interest ahead of their own pre-selections and party loyalties.
This is why we need the power returned to the people both in the USA and here. The interests of the political parties are not the same as the interests of the people.