All 50 Democrats, joined by seven GOP senators, voted to find Trump guilty of inciting the storm of the Capitol on January 6.
Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) voted to acquit the former president just as they did a year ago after House Democrats impeached Trump on the basis that he allegedly withheld foreign aid to pressure Ukrainian officials into investigating the Biden family for corruption.
Cornyn and Cruz condemned the violence that took place at the Capitol and have said that those who participated in it “should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The arguments of the House Impeachment Managers that the Constitution permits the impeachment of a private citizen, the free speech protections of the First Amendment don’t apply, the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment is optional, and that the trial may include a presiding officer who also serves as a juror all were a bridge too far,” said Cornyn.
But Texas’ senior senator said that his ultimate reason for opposing conviction was a concern “about establishing a dangerous, and sure to be used in the future, precedent of impeaching a former President after he or she has left office.”
“This practice would, I fear, make impeachments a routine part of our political competition as a tool of the majority party to exact political revenge over the minority party. Given that the Constitution makes legal offenses committed while in office subject to investigation and prosecution, as warranted, after a President is no longer in office, I believe that is the Constitutional method of accountability — not impeachment,” said Cornyn.
While Cornyn focused his reasoning on the danger of setting a precedent of impeaching former presidents, Cruz was more pointed in his defense of Trump.
“Donald Trump used heated language, but he did not urge anyone to commit acts of violence. The legal standard for incitement is very high and it is clear by the results of this vote that the House Managers failed to present a coherent standard for incitement,” said Cruz.
The junior senator said that both sides of the political aisle, “including numerous Senate Democrats and House Impeachment Managers,” have used rhetoric similar to Trump’s with phrases such as “fight,” “win,” and “take back our country.”
“Using this rhetoric is not impeachable, whether made by Republicans or Democrats,” said Cruz.
“Unfortunately, this impeachment trial did nothing to bring the domestic terrorists who committed this heinous attack to justice. It merely satisfied Democrats’ desire to once again vent their hatred of Donald Trump and their contempt for the tens of millions of Americans who voted for him,” said Cruz.
Similar to Cornyn and Cruz, when the House voted on the new article of impeachment in January, every Texas Republican member except for Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX-12), who was quarantining after a positive COVID-19 test, voted against impeachment.
Every Texas Democrat in the House of Representatives, like last year, voted to impeach Trump.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.