NEWS & ANALYSIS

The Beltway Seven: GOP Senators Who Voted to Convict Trump Facing Backlash on the Homefront


Saturday marked the second acquittal of President Donald Trump on the impeachment charge of “inciting insurrection,” a huge victory and a pivotal movement for the republican party. 

While a majority of senators voted to convict him, the democrats needed 17 republicans to reach the required two-thirds threshold. 

They only got seven: Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. 

These seven GOP senators made it the most bipartisan impeachment vote in American history. 

Here’s a closer look at the Beltway Seven. 

Richard Burr’s vote was unexpected, and even got surprised reactions from fellow senators during the session, NPR reports. He had previously voted to dismiss the trial as unconstitutional. In a statement, he said his decision was “necessary.” 

“When this process started, I believed that it was unconstitutional to impeach a president who was no longer in office,” he said. “I still believe that to be the case. However, the Senate is an institution based on precedent, and given that the majority of the Senate voted to proceed with this trial, the question of constitutionality is now established precedent.” 

Burr, who has been in the Senate since 2005, announced years ago that this will be his last term. 

The reaction to his vote is not a positive one. 

Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, expressed his discontent with Burr’s vote. 

“North Carolina Republicans sent Sen. Burr to the United States Senate to uphold the Constitution and his vote today to convict in a trial that he declared unconstitutional is shocking and disappointing,” he said. 

Bill Cassidy of Louisiana posted a video to Twitter following the trial, saying “our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty.” 

And he didn’t get away with it. Just hours after the vote, the Louisiana GOP voted unanimously to censure him. 

“Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed and President Trump has been acquitted of the impeachment charge filed against him,” the statement said. 

Susan Collins has long criticized Trump, so her vote did not come as a shock. 

“This impeachment trial is not about any single word uttered by President Trump on January 6 2021,” she said in a speech. “It is instead about President Trump’s failure to obey the oath he swore on January 20, 2017. His actions to interfere with the peaceful transition of power – the hallmark of our Constitution and our American democracy – were an abuse of power and constitute grounds for conviction.” 

“My vote in this trial stems from my own oath and duty to defend the Constitution of the United States,” she added. “The abuse of power and betrayal of his oath by President Trump meet the constitutional standard of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ and for those reasons I voted to convict Donald J. Trump.” 

Interestingly enough, Collins voted to acquit President Trump during his first impeachment trial. 

Oh, how things have changed. 

In a statement following the vote, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska urged that the evidence was clear.

“The evidence presented at the trial was clear: President Trump was watching the events unfold live, just as the entire country was,” she said.  “Even after the violence had started, as protesters chanted ‘Hang Mike Pence’ inside the Capitol, President Trump, aware of what was happening, tweeted that the Vice President had failed the country.” 

She added that Trump “set the stage for months.” 

This wasn’t the first time Mitt Romney of Utah voted to convict Trump. He was the only republican to side with the democrats during Trump’s first impeachment trial, and has been a longtime critic of the former president. 

In a statement, Romney said Trump violated his oath of office. 

“President Trump attempted to corrupt the election by pressuring the Secretary of State of Georgia to falsify the election results in his state,” the statement says. “President Trump incited the insurrection against Congress by using the power of his office to summon his supporters to Washington on January 6th and urging them to march on the Capitol during the counting of electoral votes. He did this despite the obvious and well known threats of violence that day. President Trump also violated his oath of office by failing to protect the Capitol, the Vice President, and others in the Capitol. Each and every one of these conclusions compels me to support conviction.” 

He also made a statement on Twitter.

Ben Sasse called his vote one of “conscience” in a statement Saturday. 

“In my first speech here in the Senate in November 2015, I promised to speak out when a president – even of my own party – exceeds his or her powers,” he said in a statement. “I cannot go back on my word, and Congress cannot lower our standards on such a grave matter, simply because it is politically convenient. I must vote to convict.” 

Sasse has been vocal about his discontent with Trump for months, and is expected to face a formal censure following his vote. 

Because of his previous critical comments, local GOP chapters in several Nebraska counties have passed resolutions calling for his censure, CNBC reports. A meeting of the state GOP to formally censure him was postponed due to weather. 

Despite voting for Trump, Pat Toomey said his behavior “betrayed the confidence millions of us placed in him.” 

“As a result of President Trump’s actions, for the first time in American history, the transfer of presidential power was not peaceful,” he said in a statement. “A lawless attempt to retain power by a president was one of the founders’ greatest fears motivating the inclusion of the impeachment authorities in the U.S. Constitution.”  

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Toomey may also face “possible backlash at home to come.” In response to the vote, Lawrence Tabas, the state’s GOP chairman, said that he shared a “disappointment of many of our grassroots leaders and volunteers.” 

Out of these seven republicans, two are retiring: Toomey and Burr. Only one – Lisa Murkowski – is up for reelection in the 2022 midterm, NPR reports.