Senators to lay out positions Tuesday as president heads towards acquittal on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges
Prefatory to a final vote scheduled for Wednesday afternoon on (whether to convict Donald Trump) , senators began a round of speeches on how they think the third presidential (impeachment trial) in US history should end.
Trump appeared headed for sure acquittal on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. About a dozen senators delivered speeches on Monday evening, with no signs of partisan defections.
But a small sense of suspense continued to attend the trial, in the question of whether Trump and his surrogate, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, would maintain total discipline in the Republican caucus.
That would mean winning acquittal votes even from the two senators – Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine – who last week broke with the party to vote in favor of witnesses at the trial.
The effort to call witnesses and new documentation failed 90 – . One Republican who had been closely watched as a possible swing vote, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, ultimately voted with her caucus. She said on Monday evening she would do so again on Wednesday.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Murkowski called Trump’s conduct “shameful and wrong” but saved her hottest fire for the Congress itself.
“The House failed in its responsibilities and the Senate – the Senate should be ashamed by the rank partisanship that has been on display here,” Murkowski said.
“So many in this chamber share my sadness for the present state of our institutions. It’s my hope that we’ve finally found bottom here. ”
For the duration of the trial, Trump and Republicans have sought to derail impeachment by criticizing the conduct of the process on the House side, as Murkowski did.
But the House managers pointed out
One potential Democratic crossover vote, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, offered a bill to censure Trump on Monday, and did not say which way he would vote on conviction. The censure bill did not attract any visible interest from McConnell.
Murkowski’s criticism of Trump’s “shameful” conduct was as sharp as any criticism to be heard of Trump among Republicans on the floor on Monday.
Chuck Grassley of Iowa was more typical of the Republican position, saying he did not see charges against Trump as impeachable because “a president is not prohibited by law from engaging the assistance of a foreign ally in an anti- corruption investigation. ”
Trump was impeached for using the power of his office in an attempt to extract political favors, retrospectively dressed up as an anti-corruption investigation, from Ukraine.
Collins and Romney were expected to speak on the floor on Tuesday or Wednesday morning.