Se­nate so far split neatly along party lines

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By Andrew Tay­lor

WASH­ING­TON >> The Se­nate is so far cleav­ing neatly along party lines in ad­vance of Wednesday’s vir­tu­ally cer­tain votes to ac­quit Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on two im­peach­ment charges, with just two or three un­de­cided mem­bers even con­sid­er­ing break­ing with their party.

A leading GOP moder­ate, Su­san Collins of Maine, an­nounced she will vote to ac­quit Trump, leav­ing Utah Sen. Mitt Rom­ney as the only po­ten­tial GOP vote to con­vict Trump of abus­ing his of­fice and stonewalli­ng Congress.

Collins said “it was wrong” for Trump to ask Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy to in­ves­ti­gate his po­lit­i­cal ri­val, Joe Bi­den, but that Trump’s con­duct, how­ever flawed, does not war­rant “the ex­treme step of im­me­di­ate re­moval from of­fice.” Collins voted to ac­quit for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton at his trial in 1999.

More typ­i­cal of the GOP side was Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell of Ken­tucky, who again slammed the im­peach­ment drive of House Democrats as “the most rushed, least fair and least thor­ough” in history and con­firmed that he will vote to ac­quit Trump.

The trial is cruis­ing to im­peach­ment tal­lies that will fall short of even a ma­jor­ity of the GOP-held Se­nate, much less the twothirds re­quired to re­move Trump from of­fice and in­stall Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence.

The fi­nal days of the trial have fo­cused at­ten­tion on a hand­ful of sen­a­tors in both par­ties who were viewed as po­ten­tial votes to break with their party. GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska called the pres­i­dent’s ac­tions “shame­ful and wrong” in a pow­er­ful speech late Mon­day, but she also de­rided the highly par­ti­san process. “I can­not vote to con­vict,” she said, though she also sees blame within the Se­nate.

“We are part of the prob­lem, as an in­sti­tu­tion that can­not see be­yond the blind po­lit­i­cal po­lar­iza­tion,” Murkowski told re­porters af­ter her speech.

Other Repub­li­cans, such as Sens. La­mar Alexan­der of Ten­nessee, Marco Ru­bio of Florida and Rob Port­man of Ohio, also say Trump’s ac­tions to with­hold mil­i­tary aid from Ukraine while press­ing Ze­len­skiy to an­nounce an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Bi­den and his son Hunter were in­ap­pro­pri­ate, but fell short of war­rant­ing his re­moval from of­fice, es­pe­cially in an elec­tion year.

“The aid went; the in­ves­ti­ga­tions did not oc­cur,” Port­man said.

Demo­crat af­ter Demo­crat took to the Se­nate floor to an­nounce they would vote to con­vict Trump, with se­nior Demo­crat Shel­don White­house, D-R.I., out­raged by the con­duct of White House lawyers, who he said per­formed for an au­di­ence of one — mean­ing Trump — while play­ing fast and loose with the facts.

No mem­ber of ei­ther party has in­di­cated yet that they will break with their party col­leagues. Repub­li­cans hold a 53-47 ma­jor­ity in the Se­nate.

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