February 6, 2020

Daily Senate Impeachment Trial Updates: February 6

Trump became the first president in U.S. history on the receiving end of a bipartisan Senate vote for his conviction, as Mitt Romney joined every single Democrat in standing up for our democracy.


  • New York Times: Trump Acquitted of Two Impeachment Charges in Near Party-Line Vote


  • Politico: Trump was acquitted. But didn't get exactly what he wanted.


  • Op-ed by House Impeachment Managers in Washington Post: “By denying the American people a fair trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also deprived the president of something that he desperately sought — exoneration. There can be no exoneration without a legitimate trial. Out of fear of what they would learn, the Senate refused to hold one. The president will not be vindicated, and neither will the Senate, certainly not by history.”


  • USA Today Editorial: Senate acquittals of President Donald Trump leave a damaging legacy.  Next Democratic president will look at the lawlessness of this Republican one and the cowardice of the Senate and conclude that anything goes: Our view


  • Sen. Sherrod Brown op-ed in New York Times: In Private, Republicans Admit They Acquitted Trump Out of Fear. One journalist remarked to me, “How in the world can these senators walk around here upright when they have no backbone?”


  • The Nation: Republican Senators Just Sold Out Democracy.  By acquitting Trump, Republicans handed the president nearly unlimited power—and revealed the extent of their venality.


  • Vox: Trump’s impeachment acquittal shows how democracy could really die.  The Senate’s sham trial revealed a philosophical flaw in American liberal democracy.



Sen. Mitt Romney delivered a gripping speech on the Senate floor, arguing his oath to do impartial justice and Trump’s grievous wrongs demanded he vote to convict, despite the inevitable backlash.


  • New York Times: Full Transcript: Mitt Romney’s Speech Announcing Vote to Convict Trump


  • Politico: Romney denies Trump unanimous Republican support  |  “Mitt Romney brought a stunning twist to the end of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial: A bipartisan vote to convict the president on charges of abuse of power… The 2012 Republican nominee said he was left with no other options, regardless of the volcanic reaction instantly delivered by some of the president’s supporters. ‘The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor,’ Romney said in a dramatic floor speech, in which Romney choked up while discussing how he is guided by his faith. ‘Yes, he did,’ Romney said.”


  • Washington Post: Analysis: No senator ever voted to remove a president of his party from office. Until Mitt Romney.  |  “The senator’s defection from Trump will be a source of intense annoyance to the president and other Republicans. Trump derived an enormous amount of political capital from describing the impeachment as purely partisan, a designation that necessarily ignored support for impeachment from Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), whose opposition to Trump led him to leave the Republican Party in July. Trump and his allies can no longer call the impeachment purely partisan, even with the Amash caveat.”


  • The Atlantic: How Mitt Romney Decided Trump Is Guilty  |  “In the end, the evidence was inescapable. ‘The president did in fact pressure a foreign government to corrupt our election process,’ Romney said. ‘And really, corrupting an election process in a democratic republic is about as abusive and egregious an act against the Constitution—and one's oath—that I can imagine. It's what autocrats do.’... When I asked Romney why none of his fellow Republicans had reached the same conclusion, he attempted diplomacy…. But as he discussed the various rationalizations put forth by other Republican senators, he seemed to grow exasperated. He took particular issue with the idea—currently quite trendy in his caucus—that Trump’s fate should be decided at the ballot box, not in the Senate. “I would have liked to have abdicated my responsibility as I understood it under the Constitution and under the writing of the Founders by saying, Let’s leave this to the voters. But, he said, ‘I’m subject to my own conscience.’”


  • TPM’s Josh Marshall: Romney’s Vote is More Than Symbolic  |  “There’s one line that jumped out at me. Romney said about how history will record his vote that “they will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong.’ There’s a key point here. After the witness bar was surmounted, a number of Republican senators piped up and said well, he clearly did something wrong but it’s not wrong enough or it doesn’t matter or something else. Romney’s statement puts the lie to this in what I suspect is a pretty uncomfortable way, and one which will be damaging to at least a few reelection candidates in November. He’s saying, no, you weren’t willing to say he was wrong. You said it was fine. And that really is what they’re saying. Because they’re cowards and derelict in their duties.”


  • NY Mag’s Jonathan Chait: “Mitt Romney announced Wednesday he will vote to convict President Trump on charges of abuse of power. Trump now becomes the first president in American history to be recommended for removal from office by a senator of his own party… Does Mitt’s vote matter? Yes, quite a bit. ‘Partisanship’ is a commonly used heuristic for journalists and many voters who don’t follow politics closely. Trump’s defenders have dismissed impeachment as a partisan exercise, and while Romney’s vote will not stop them from saying it, it will provide an easy rebuke to those who do. Romney is not an obscure Republican, and not a moderate one, either.”


Other vote perspectives:


  • Politico: Red state Democrats stick with party to convict Trump


  • Washington Post: “Republicans’ hopes of securing a bipartisan acquittal of President Trump on dual impeachment charges evaporated Wednesday after three closely watched Democrats — Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — each announced they would vote to convict Trump.”


  • CNN: Democrat Doug Jones facing reelection headwinds as he votes to convict Trump  |  “If there were any senator to vote against his party on the impeachment of President Donald Trump for the sake of his own political preservation, it should be Doug Jones… ‘There will be so many who will simply look at what I'm doing today and say it is a profile in courage,’ Jones said of the Senate floor Wednesday. ‘It is not. It is simply a matter of right and wrong. Where doing right is not a courageous act. It is simply following your oath.’”


  • Arizona Republic: “Citing her concern for the Constitution as well as the conduct of future presidents, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema voted Wednesday to convict President Donald Trump on the impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The decision by Sinema, a moderate Arizona Democrat who was seen as a swing vote, was one of the last remaining questions hanging over Trump’s impeachment trial.”


  • Fox News: Manchin, swing-state senators swarmed with Dem hugs after voting to convict Trump  |  “‘This was the most difficult decision I've ever had to make,” Manchin told reporters afterward. ‘… This is not a political vote whatsoever. It’s not whether I like the president. I've always had a good relationship [with Trump], but I love my country, and I have an obligation, responsibilities and my duties to my country. And if I can't explain that then shame on me,’ he said.”


Sen. Susan Collins vote rationale: 


  • Washington Post: “When [Trump] was asked about Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) saying he had learned a lesson during impeachment, the president said he’d done nothing wrong: ‘It was a perfect call.’”


  • The Hill: Trump dismissed Collins comment that he would learn from impeachment: report


  • WGME’s Gregg Lagerquist: “Just spoke with Sen. Collins She now says she probably shouldn't have said that she ‘believes’ Pres. Trump has learned his lessons from the fallout from his dealings with Ukraine and #Impeachment  She now says a better word would have been ‘hopes’”


  • Vox: Susan Collins’s rationale for acquitting Trump aged poorly before she could even cast her vote


New details about Biden smears Giuliani relayed to Trump, and a trove of emails depicting Pentagon officials stunned by the Ukraine aid freeze. 


  • New York Times: Beyond the Partisan Fight, a Wealth of Evidence About Trump and Ukraine  |  “When all the partisan posturing, parliamentary wrangling and legalistic arguing are stripped away, the impeachment process that dominated Washington for months produced a set of facts that is largely beyond dispute: The president of the United States pressured a foreign government to take actions aimed at his political opponents.”


  • New York Times’ Ken Vogel: “NEW: When he came back from Ukraine & Budapest in December, @RudyGiuliani screened videos of the interviews he conducted there for TRUMP, who was appreciative, GIULIANI told associates. The videos showed Ukrainians making claims about the BIDENS & 2016.”


  • CNN: Pentagon officials stunned by White House decision to block Ukraine aid, new emails show  |  “Days before the July 2019 call between President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, US officials were still working to expedite the delivery of Javelin anti-tank missiles to the country, according to emails and other internal documents reviewed by CNN. The new information underscores how the July 18th decision to hold the military aid stunned officials, who had already assessed Ukraine deserved to receive it and were preparing a Javelin missile order as well. The decision reverberated across the government for weeks. Officials grew so concerned over the deferrals by [OMB] that they noted the aid was at ‘serious risk,’ and questioned if the move was illegal.”


  • Politico’s Natasha Bertrand: “DoD officials were trying to expedite delivery of Javelins to Ukraine 10 days before Trump's call w/Zelensky, emails show, but then Trump ordered hold on aid. Adds new context to Trump's ‘I'd like you to do us a favor, though,’ when Z asked about Javelins.”


Continuing to investigate the Ukraine scandal and will likely subpoena John Bolton.


  • NPR: Rep. Jerry Nadler Says House Will Likely Subpoena John Bolton  |  “House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., says the House expects to continue its investigations into President Trump's conduct, even after Wednesday's expected acquittal of Trump in the Senate impeachment trial. Speaking with reporters, Nadler says the House "will likely" subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton.”


  • New York Times: “Just because it will soon be over does not mean it will actually be over. Hours before the expected Senate vote ending President Trump’s trial, a senior House Democrat indicated that he will continue the investigation on his side of the Capitol, starting with a subpoena for John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser… It was not clear whether he would be willing to comply with a subpoena without a court fight if issued by the House outside the context of an impeachment trial. A spokeswoman for Mr. Bolton had no comment on Wednesday. Even if he did, Mr. Trump could assert executive privilege to try to block his testimony, provoking the legal battle Democrats hoped to avoid.”


  • Washington Post Editorial: It’s not over. Congress must continue to hold Trump accountable.  |  “In the House, committees that pursued the investigation of Mr. Trump’s actions in Ukraine should continue to do so. There is much that remains unknown, including whether the president extracted favors in 2017 and 2018 from Ukraine’s previous government. There is also a public interest in the airing of evidence that the White House has illegitimately suppressed about the pressure campaign against the current president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The House should subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton, along with documents related to Mr. Trump’s withholding of military aid from Mr. Zelensky’s government.”


Executive Power, Separation of Powers and Federalism