Republican enthusiasm for second Trump term lags as impeachment trial
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[February 13, 2021]
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Republicans,
while likely to acquit former President Donald Trump at his impeachment
trial, showed little enthusiasm this week for a possible second White
House bid in 2024 after reliving his supporters' deadly storming of the
Following days of graphic videos of the melee presented by House
managers, Republicans expressed concern about his post-election
behavior, including his repeated false claim that the 2020 presidential
election was stolen from him - even as they insisted that his trial on a
charge of inciting insurrection is unconstitutional.
Trump, the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, could
run for another term in 2024 unless the Senate votes to bar him from
future office, an unlikely feat.
But the prosecution case by nine Democrats from the House of
Representatives stirred painful memories of Jan. 6, when violent Trump
supporters stormed the Capitol, interrupting Congress as it worked to
certify President Joe Biden's victory and forcing lawmakers to flee.
Five people died.
A Senate Republican aide on Friday said as many as 10 out of 50
Republicans could vote to convict the former president, more than the
six who voted that the trial was constitutional, but still short of the
17 Republicans who would need to join Democrats for a conviction to
stick in the 100-seat chamber.
Republican Lisa Murkowski told reporters earlier in the week that the
evidence against Trump was "pretty damning," while she also pledged to
listen to the former president's defense.
But displeasure at Trump's post-election performance was palpable even
among Republicans who asserted the impeachment trial of a former
president was unconstitutional.
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Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) speaks at a hearing to examine the
nomination of Neera Tanden, President Joe Bidens nominee for
Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), on Capitol
Hill in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2021. Anna Moneymaker/Pool
via REUTERS/File Photo
"The president's actions since the election have been extremely
disappointing and not something that I have agreed with, and not
something that I ever want to see again," Senator Mike Rounds of
South Dakota told reporters.
Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the six Republicans who voted that the
proceeding was constitutional, cited House manager concerns that a
2024 Trump campaign could lead to renewed violence if he lost.
"Let me decide if he's guilty or not," Cassidy told reporters when
asked if he could vote for Trump again.
With Trump out of office, Republicans also predicted that other
effective party leaders and White House candidates would emerge from
Republican ranks in the coming years.
"I think there are going to be some very qualified candidates that
are going to look at 2024," Rounds said.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson, a prominent Trump ally, also said he
expected fresh party leaders to show themselves.
"Whether he (Trump) runs, that's his decision. Whether he can get
re-elected, that'll be the decision of the voters," Johnson said.
(Reporting by David Morgan, additional reporting by Richard Cowan;
Editing by Scott Malone and Aurora Ellis)
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