Prospect for Trump acquittal unclear as most GOP senators undecided or won’t say how they will vote

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President Trump’s chances for an acquittal in his upcoming Senate impeachment trial are unclear, as most Republicans either refuse comment on how they will vote or say they are undecided.

Fox News contacted every Republican who will be serving as a senator after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, when the trial is likely to begin.

Given that a two-thirds majority is needed to convict, seventeen Republicans would have to vote in favor of the impeachment, assuming all 50 Democrats do so. 

But only 13 GOP senators volunteered that they will vote to acquit Trump on the House-passed impeachment resolution, which charged the president with “incitement of insurrection.”

Based on responses to Fox News and publicly available statements, ten Republicans are undecided. Three refused to comment, and another 24 did not respond, despite repeated requests for comment over two days of inquiries.

Only ten Republicans in the House crossed the aisle to support the impeachment resolution, which passed Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is among those who say they want to listen to the arguments before casting a vote.

“While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” the majority leader said in a memo to GOP senators Wednesday that was obtained by Fox News.

Sen. Richard Shelby, of Alabama, is among those who agree.

“I believe we need to wait and hear the evidence,” Shelby told Fox News on Thursday. “If there is a trial, which would be my third as a sitting Senator, I would sit as a juror. And as a juror, I would carefully consider the evidence presented.”

“The charges being brought against President Trump are serious and will be given serious consideration, including examining the historical and legal precedents and the long-term impacts a conviction under these circumstances could have on our Republic,” Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska told Fox News. “When a trial is conducted, I will be a juror, and I will thoroughly examine the arguments and evidence presented, including any defense mounted by the president’s legal team.

The senior senator from Alaska, Lisa Murkowski was the first Republican in the upper chamber to call for Trump’s removal from office. She told a local news outlet last week: “I want him out.” 

Murkowski said Trump’s incitement of violence was “unlawful” and could not “go without consequence,” and she applauded the impeachment.

But she said she would wait for the trial before she decided whether or not to convict Trump.

“When the Article of Impeachment comes to the Senate, I will follow the oath I made when sworn as a U.S. Senator,” Murkowski said in a statement. “I will listen carefully and consider the arguments of both sides, and will then announce how I will vote.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey was the only Republican other than Murkowski to say publicly last week that Trump had “committed impeachable offenses,” and he stuck by his judgment of the president and the “role he played in the deadly riot at the Capitol.”

But he too is not yet ready to convict.

“President Trump will be out of office before a Senate impeachment trial can begin. Whether or not the Senate has the constitutional authority to hold an impeachment trial for a president that is no longer in office is debatable,” Toomey told Fox News. “Should the Senate conduct a trial, I will again fulfill my responsibility to consider arguments from both the House managers and President Trump’s lawyers.”

Republican Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine; Mike Crapo, Indiana; Chuck Grassley, Iowa; James Lankford, Oklahoma; and Rob Portman, of Ohio, also told Fox News they will await the trial before they issue a verdict on convicting Trump in the Senate.

Those senators who will vote to acquit largely cited concerns over further dividing the country.

“At a time when the United States needs national healing and a true commitment to the rule of law, the American people should look to their legislators not to deepen partisan division, but to bring us together,” Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., told Fox News. “There are seven days to go in the president’s term, and he has fully committed to a peaceful transfer of power.” 


A spokesperson for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., claimed the trial was nothing more than a “partisan exercise that will further embitter and divide the country.”

Paul did not join fellow GOP members, led by Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in objecting to the Electoral College results last week, and his spokesperson told Fox News he condemned the violence on the Capitol.

But the spokesperson added, “If the Democrats actually want to lower the tensions and division, impeachment is the wrong idea.”

Hagerty and Paul were joined in opposition to conviction by several GOP senators including Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina; Rick Scott, of Florida; and Marsha Blackburn.

“Moving forward with impeachment at this juncture will only further divide our already hurting nation,” Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., told Fox News. “I respect the right of all of my colleagues to vote their conscience, but we need to calm the rhetoric and start finding ways to work together as Americans.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the only GOP senator to cross party lines and vote alongside Democrats for impeachment in February 2020, did not respond to Fox News’ inquiry about how he felt about the upcoming impeachment trial.

Another 26 Republican senators did not answer inquiries by Fox News on the upcoming impeachment trial: John Barrasso, of Wyoming; Roy Blunt, of Missouri; John Boozman, of Arkansas; Mike Braun, of Indiana; Richard Burr, North Carolina; Shelley Moore Capito, of West Virginia; Bill Cassidy, of Louisiana; John Cornyn, of Texas; Kevin Cramer, of North Dakota; Joni Ernst, of Iowa; Deb Fischer, of Nebraska; Josh Hawley, of Missouri; John Hoeven, of North Dakota; Jim Inhofe, of Oklahoma; Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin; John Kennedy, Louisiana; Mike Lee, of Utah; Roger Marshall, of Kanasas; Jerry Moran, of Kansas; James Risch, of Idaho; Mike Rounds, South Dakota; Ben Sasse, of Nebraska; John Thune of South Dakota, Thom Tillis, North Carolina; Tommy Tuberville, Alabama; and Todd Young, of Indiana. 


The penalty of conviction is intended to be the removal from office, but as Trump will already be gone from the White House, it is unclear what Congress could do if it convicts him apart from taking another vote to bar him from running for re-election. 

The Senate is set to begin Trump’s trial on Jan. 20, at 1 p.m., Politico first reported Thursday.

Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

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