Over the weekend, a majority of the U.S. Senate–57 senators–voted to acquit former President Donald Trump in a second impeachment trial, short of the two-thirds needed to convict him.
The article of impeachment concerned Trump’s role last month when a mob of his supporters attacked the Capitol, leading to five deaths including a Capitol police officer.
Florida’s two U.S. senators–Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott–voted to acquit Trump though neither of them defended his actions on January 6th.
“Just minutes after the attack of January 6th began I said it was not only unpatriotic, it was un-American,” Rubio said on Saturday. “I do not need to be convinced that what happened on that day was the disgraceful work of a treasonous criminal mob. But seeing images of that attack stirred up anger in me. Anger that our nation was embarrassed in the eyes of the world by our own citizens. Anger that Capitol Police officers that my family and I know personally had to deal with these low-lives. Anger that janitorial and food service staff I have gotten to know – many who came to America to get away from countries with political violence – had to clean up the mess left behind by these cretins.
“But if we have learned anything this week, it should be how dangerous it is to allow anger to influence actions,” Rubio added. “The lead House Manager argued today that this trial isn’t about Donald Trump. That it was about our country. And that those who refuse to vote to convict are condoning the actions of a violent mob and failing to defend the honor of our Capitol and the people who work here. This is a ridiculous and insulting argument.
“Impeachment is not a way of sending a message or taking symbolic action. Impeachment exists for one principal reason: to remove from office an office holder guilty of wrongdoing,” Rubio continued. “And claiming that anyone who doesn’t vote to convict someone no longer in office is the equivalent of supporting a criminal mob is nothing but hyper-partisan politicians masquerading as high minded prosecutors trying to smear their political opponents.
“The Senate does not have the Constitutional power to convict a former official. And even if we did we should be very reluctant to use it,” Rubio said. “In the 244 year history of our Republic we have never convicted and disqualified a former official in an impeachment trial. Doing so now would create a new precedent. And it would weaponize impeachment in a way we will come to regret. The day will come when a future Congress – one with a new majority in the House filled with new members elected on the promise of holding accountable leaders of the opposite party – will give in to these passions and impeach a former official. The Senate will then find itself conducting a trial of that former official. A trial justified by the precedent we are asked to set here today. And a Senate tempted to convict by the tantalizing opportunity to disqualify that official from future public office.
“My fear of creating dangerous precedents is not new,” Rubio insisted. “Two years ago, I was accused by some in my party of being a traitor because I opposed using an emergency declaration to fund a border wall that I supported. I warned then that a future Democratic president would do the same thing to fund a Green New Deal. And now, just two years later, leading Democrats are calling for that very thing.
The lead manager admitted today that for the Democrats and their enablers working in the legacy media the purpose of this trial was not to hold the former president accountable,” Rubio continued. “The real purpose of this trial was to tar and feather not just the rioters, but anyone who supported the former president and any Senator who refuses to vote to convict.
“I voted to acquit former President Trump because I will not allow my anger over the criminal attack of January 6th nor the political intimidation from the left to lead me into supporting a dangerous constitutional precedent,” Rubio said in conclusion. “The election is over. A new president is in the White House and a new Congress has been sworn in. Let history, and if necessary the courts, judge the events of the past. We should be focused on the serious challenges of the present and preparing our country to confront the serious tests it will face in the future.”
Scott agreed with Rubio that it was time to move on.
“The attack on the Capitol we all witnessed on January 6 was horrific and the lawless thugs who are responsible for the disgusting violence we saw do not represent America. They should all be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, this week, instead of addressing the serious issues facing our nation, Democrats in Congress put our work for the American people on hold and pushed forward with an unconstitutional impeachment trial. The Democrats’ political theater was better suited for the Kennedy Center than the U.S. Capitol. It was a waste of everyone’s time and tax dollars,” Scott said.
“It’s time to get back to work. I am more focused than ever on battling the coronavirus pandemic, addressing our nation’s unsustainable $27 trillion debt, holding our adversaries and the brutal dictators that lead them accountable and finding real solutions that protect DACA and tackle America’s border security problem. I’ll continue fighting to make Washington work and get things done for Florida families,” Scott added.
Democrats from the Sunshine State continued to take aim at Trump, including U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., who served as a House manager in the first impeachment.
“Donald Trump took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and he violated that oath. He lied about the election, told his supporters to fight, and then sat back and watched as they brutalized police officers and hunted elected officials while shouting ‘fight for Trump.’ He refused to call them off or send support to law enforcement. Seven people have died, including three law enforcement officers. He has shown no remorse,” Demings said.
“Today’s vote does not absolve the ex-president of his crimes, which were too public and too obvious to wave away. Rather, it implicates the Senate itself. Every senator who voted against justice has dishonored themselves and their oaths. The U.S. Senate is an honorable place, but the political ambitions of selfish men are the greatest threat to our democracy. These self-centered men are mere shadows in a sacred place where great men once stood,” she continued.
“If future presidents know that they can violate their oaths and incite violence to stay in power, then they will. I pray that we will have the strength and the honor to safeguard our republic, and to rebuild an America where truth, justice, and the rule of law matter,” Demings said in conclusion.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.