But even after seeing this deadly violence firsthand, many Republican senators failed to condemn former President Donald Trump for “inciting riots.”
Although they were dismayed by the impeachment leaders’ presentation, these Republicans said that House Democrats have not proven that Trump’s words have led to violent action. They compared the January 6 riots to last summer’s racial justice protests and criticized the way the process is being handled.
Senator Lindsey Graham said he could not believe “that we can lose Capitol Hill like this,” but added that it did not change his decision to acquit Trump at trial.
“I think there were more votes for acquittal after today than there were yesterday,” said the South Carolina Republican.
Senator Mike Brown said the visual presentation of the managers was “fascinating,” adding, “It’s just as hard to accept today as it was then. But when asked if that changed his mind, the Indiana Republican replied, “If you think the process is flawed in the first place, I think it would be different if you came to a conclusion about the facts and the merits of the process itself.
And Senator Ted Cruz said a direct link between Trump and the pro-Trump revolt was “conspicuously absent.” The Texas Republican argued that there are “no political candidates” in the country, including “every Democratic senator” who does not use the same language as Trump, who told his supporters to “fight like crazy.”
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“They have spent a lot of time talking about the heinous acts of violence committed by criminals, but the president’s language does not come close to meeting the legal standards of sedition,” Cruz said of the leaders’ presentation.
These comments are the latest sign that Democrats face major obstacles in getting the 67 votes needed to pass a vote of no confidence in Mr. Trump. Seventeen Republicans are expected to break ranks if all 50 Democrats vote for a vote of no confidence in the former president and then prevent him from returning to office.
“I think at best you have six Republicans – probably five and probably six,” GOP Senator Tim Scott told CNN when asked if the video and footage changed his opinion of Mr. Trump’s conviction. Asked if he considered himself an impartial juror, the South Carolina Republican replied, “I think I’m as impartial as the other 99.
Six Republicans may be Sense. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana – six Republicans who broke with their party on Tuesday and voted for the constitutional challenge.
Cassidy, who was the victim of backlash among local Republicans over the vote, dismissed the idea that the displeasure of Republicans might influence his vote, saying, “My first loyalty is to the Constitution. He added that he has not yet decided on a conviction.
“I’m angry, it bothers me,” Murkowski said of the video. “The evidence that has been presented is pretty horrific.”
In an address to the crowd on Capitol Hill, Trump called on his supporters to “make their voices heard in a peaceful and patriotic manner,” but also to “fight like the devil,” “never give up” and “never back down.” He had tweeted a few days earlier that the “Surrender Caucus” within the Republican Party would become infamous as the weak and ineffective “guardians” of our nation who were willing to accept references to rigged presidential elections!” He repeatedly called on his supporters to “stop the theft.”
During the course of the case, Trump tried to call on Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama to delay confirmation of his loss, saying that Pence did not have the “courage to do what needs to be done to protect our country and our Constitution.”
Some Republicans seemed impressed with the impeachment official after he sharply criticized the president’s defense team on Tuesday for its lack of a unified response.
Senator from South Dakota. GOP member John Thune said House directors have done an “effective job” and “made the connection” between Trump’s words and the uprising.
Romney, who last year was the only Republican to vote for Trump’s conviction in his first impeachment trial, was on screen during a presentation of executives fleeing Capitol Hill after Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman ordered him to flee against his will.
“It is obviously very disturbing to see the great violence that our Capitol Police and others are facing,” Romney said. “It tears your heart out and makes you cry. It was extremely stressful and emotional.”
The Utah Republican said he was “lucky” to see Goodman there and spoke with him later Wednesday in the Senate. “I thanked him for coming to my rescue and getting me back on track,” he said.
But when asked if the scenes shown would change his fellow Republicans’ minds, Romney replied, “I can’t predict how the others will react.”
For most Republican senators, Wednesday’s performance does not seem to affect how they will vote. Many officially condemn the trial as unconstitutional because Mr. Trump is now a former president and the penalty for a conviction is disqualification from office. However, if Trump is convicted, the Senate could prohibit him from holding public office again.
Yet GOP senators, including Florida’s Marco Rubio, say Trump bears “some responsibility” for the unrest and that the Senate should play no role in prosecuting the former president.
“Who wouldn’t be,” asked Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, when asked if he was shocked by the tape he saw Wednesday.
But when Johnson was asked if he held Trump accountable, he said, “I hold these people accountable.”
Ryan Nobles, Ted Barrett, Sarah Fortinsky, Ali Zaslav, Ali Main, Christine Wilson and Lauren Fox of CNN contributed to this report.