One of the biggest disappointments among the GOP senators who voted for acquittal is Rob Portman, a mainstream conservative from Ohio who is retiring in 2022. He certainly knew Trump was guilty as hell and he could have voted to convict him without fear of political retribution. On February 10th, Portman looked for the easy cop-out with this statement: "There is no question in my mind that former President Trump bears some responsibility for the tragic events of January 6, through his words and actions. I have called his comments that day inexcusable. I’ve also consistently said that I believe there are serious constitutional questions surrounding holding a Senate trial with the intent of convicting of a former president. The text of the Constitution prescribes removal from office as the punishment upon conviction, and former federal officials by definition are no longer in office."
So he voted against conviction. Then on Saturday he released >another coward's cop-out statement:
The siege of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was an attack on democracy itself. That night, shortly after the rioters had been cleared from the Senate floor, I spoke to urge my colleagues to support the state certifications of the election results as our constitutional duty, and as a signal that ‘we will not be intimidated’ and that ‘mob rule is not going to prevail here.’
I have said that what President Trump did that day was inexcusable because in his speech he encouraged the mob, and that he bears some responsibility for the tragic violence that occurred. I have also criticized his slow response as the mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, putting at risk the safety of Vice President Pence, law enforcement officers, and others who work in the Capitol. Even after the attack, some of the language in his tweets and in a video showed sympathy for the violent mob. In response, I called on President Trump to ‘explicitly urge his supporters to remain peaceful and refrain from violence.’
But the question I must answer is not whether President Trump said and did things that were reckless and encouraged the mob. I believe that happened. The threshold question I must answer is whether a former president can be convicted by the Senate in the context of an impeachment. This would be unprecedented.
So? Wasn't what Trump did unprecedented? Portman is full of shit and just spouting the party-line that McConnell has decided on. (McConnell, who made the no conviction decision said "There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.") Even as he leaves, Portman just can't be his own man. McConnell, according to Newsweek's Christina Zhao, is now acknowledging that he and Trump are on a collision course. McConnell wants to win back the majority in the Senate, while Trump, as always, has his own self-serving agenda which could conflict with McConnell's. And McConnell has said he will fight Trump if he pushes crackpot loser candidates like his daughter-in-law, Lara. McConnell was clear: "My goal is, in every way possible, to have nominees representing the Republican Party who can win in November," he said. "Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be. The only thing I care about is electability."
The recently concluded impeachment proceedings and trial has further fueled the escalating GOP "civil war." Trump allies, including Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Gym Jordan of Ohio and Andy Briggs of Arizona, have vowed to support primary challengers of House GOP members who crossed party lines to vote for impeachment.
The seven Republican senators who joined Democrats in voting to convict Trump-- Susan Collins, Bill Cassidy, Pat Toomey, Mitt Romney, Richard Burr, Ben Sasse and Lisa Murkowski-- have also faced backlash from conservatives and Trump loyalists.
Trump has left the White House with virtually no public platform, but his grip on the GOP is still evident in the latest group of Republican Senate candidates, including Josh Mandel.
"In Washington, I will pulverize the Uniparty-- that cabal of Democrats and Republicans who sound the same and stand for nothing," said Mandel, as he announced his candidacy to replace Ohio Senator Rob Portman earlier this month.
"I'm all in to advance the America First Trump Agenda and to oust [Representative] Anthony Gonzalez!" he added in a follow up tweet.
Trump's cronies say he feels emboldened by his "win" in the Senate (even though it was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment vote ever-- 57-43 against Trump). And his #1 goal is revenge against Republicans who refused to support his failed coup and the after-effects (like the impeachment).
South Carolina patsy Lindsey Graham spoke for Trump yesterday on Fox News Sunday, lisping his self-aggrandizing bullshit: "I said, 'Mr. President, this MAGA movement needs to continue. We need to unite the party. Trump-plus is the way back in 2022'... My goal is to win in 2022 to stop the most radical agenda I’ve seen coming out of the Democratic presidency of Joe Biden. We can’t do that without Donald Trump, so he’s ready to hit the trail and I’m ready to work with him."