Less that one day out from the final vote in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, we now know that almost every Republican is expected to acquit him.
It’s an outcome that’s long been a foregone conclusion, though House Democrats had hoped to sway at least one Republican to vote in favor of conviction on the two articles. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced this week that they would both be voting for acquittal, leaving Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) as the lone swing Republican who hasn’t announced which way he’ll go. Romney and Collins, previously, were the only two Republicans who voted to call more witnesses for the impeachment trial.
Collins and Murkowski both gave similar rationales for their decisions: They agreed that Trump had acted improperly by conditioning military aid to Ukraine on the announcement of political investigations, but they didn’t see these actions — or his attempt to obstruct Congress’s investigation into those actions — rising to the level of an impeachable offense.
“I do not believe the House has met its burden of showing that the president’s conduct, however flawed, warrants the extreme step of immediate removal from office,” Collins said.
The two moderates are among several other Republicans — including Sens. Lamar Alexander and Rob Portman — who’ve acknowledged Trump’s wrongdoing but stopped short of supporting his removal. “That both Republican senators such as myself and Democratic senators have criticized his conduct strikes me as a reprimand,” Collins argued, suggesting that she thinks the president had learned from this experience.
Romney, who’s been a vocal critic of Trump’s behavior since the early news broke about his calls on Ukraine for political investigations, is now Democrats’ only hope for a bipartisan impeachment vote on Wednesday afternoon. The House vote on the articles last year didn’t include any Republicans, either. And Senate Democrats may see some potential defections of their own. Sens. Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and Doug Jones are the most closely watched swing votes on Democrats’ side of the aisle.
Senators will cast their final votes on the two articles of impeachment at 4 pm Eastern on Wednesday afternoon.