All 5 Southern Democrats join unsuccessful effort to convict and disqualify Trump from future office
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Richard Burr of North Carolina broke with most of their Republican colleagues to vote to convict former president Donald Trump Saturday on charges of inciting the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Cassidy and Burr were the only Southern Republicans to vote for conviction in Trump’s impeachment trial; all five Southern Democrats voted to convict, including U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a state Trump carried by nearly 40 points in November.
While a majority of 57 senators voted to convict Trump, the number was not enough to clear the two-thirds majority required for conviction under the Constitution.
“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person,” Cassidy said in a statement. “I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty.”
In his own statement, Burr said, “I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary.”
“By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Burr said.
Cassidy was elected in November to a six-year term and won’t face voters again until 2026. Burr has announced he isn’t seeking re-election in 2022 and will retire from the Senate at the end of his current term.
Machin, in a statement, said he voted to convict Trump “to hold him accountable for his seditious actions and words that threatened our democracy.”
“It is time to move forward as one nation to focus on helping Americans suffering from the pandemic,” Manchin said. “Now more than ever, it is on each of us to seek unity over division and put partisanship aside for the good of our country.”
Twenty-one Southern Republicans voted to acquit Trump, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who had denounced Trump’s claim of election fraud on the Senate floor less than an hour before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on January 6.
However, in remarks after the vote, McConnell delivered an extensive and passionate rebuke of Trump in which he excoriated his behavior as a “disgraceful dereliction of duty,” said he bears direct responsibility for the assault on the Capitol, and suggested that he could face criminal prosecution.
But McConnell said the Constitution prevented the Senate from convicting Trump of impeachment now that he’s left office.
“We have no power to convict and disqualify a former officeholder who is now a private citizen,” McConnell said. “Impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice. Impeachment, conviction and removal are a specific intra-governmental safety valve.”
Also voting to acquit was U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, whose phone call from Trump during the siege of the Capitol became a focus of the impeachment case brought by House managers.
Tuberville told reporters that he had informed Trump that Vice President Mike Pence had been evacuated from the Capitol, contradicting statements from Trump’s defense attorneys that he did not know of the peril in which Pence had been placed by the pro-Trump mob.
The Southern senators who joined Cassidy, Burr and Machin in voting to convict included Georgia’s two new Democratic members, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, and two Democrats from Virginia, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.