U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine voted Saturday to convict former President Donald Trump for inciting last month’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
While Collins and King were among the majority voting to punish Trump, the 57-43 vote was 10 Republican votes shy of the two-thirds needed for a conviction.
Collins was one of just seven Republicans voting to convict. In a speech from the Senate floor, she blamed the former president for seeding the discontent among his supporters that culminated in the riot at the Capitol.
“That attack was not a spontaneous outbreak of violence,” she said. “Rather, it was the culmination of a steady stream of provocations by President Trump that were aimed at overturning the results of the presidential election.”
Collins said Trump’s efforts to discredit and overturn the results were unprecedented and fueled the anger among his supporters.
“Instead of preventing a dangerous situation, President Trump created one,” she said. “And rather than defend the constitutional transfer of power, he incited an insurrection with the purpose of preventing that transfer of power from occurring. Whether by design or by virtue of a reckless disregard for the consequences of his actions, President Trump, subordinating the interests of the country to his own selfish interests, bears significant responsibility for the invasion of the Capitol.”
King, a frequent critic of Trump, described the former president’s effort to delegitimize the election as his “most dangerous failing.”
In addition to blaming Trump for fomenting the insurrection with wild voter fraud fallacies, King also blasted the former president for doing nothing to stop the violence that he ignited.
“Donald Trump’s lies drove people to violence — and when the violence came, his silence was deafening,” King said.
Trump’s alleged reluctance to call off the riot was a centerpiece of the impeachment trial. Democratic impeachment managers attempted to show the Senate jury that the former president stood idly by as rioters attempted to hunt down former Vice President Mike Pence, who had been targeted because he didn’t invalidate the election results during the election certification vote that served as the purpose for the insurrection.
Several Republicans also confirmed a phone call between House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy in which Trump seemed unconcerned that the rioters were his supporters and not leftist agitators as he and his allies had asserted without evidence.
But the threat to Pence, to the election and to the seat of the U.S. government wasn’t enough to convince 17 Republicans to convict.
“Unfortunately, too many of my Republican colleagues have chosen to let former President Trump off the hook – again,” said King, adding that Republicans shouldn’t grant Trump a “free pass” just because many of his supporters still believe the election was stolen.
King’s vote yesterday was his second vote to convict Trump on impeachment charges. Last year the independent voted to convict the former president for abuse of power and attempting to coerce the president of Ukraine to dig up dirt on President Joe Biden. Collins voted to acquit Trump on those charges.