There are two kinds of Republican senators who voted to acquit Donald Trump in his impeachment trial two weeks ago: those who acknowledged he was guilty and voted to acquit anyway, and those who pretended the president had done nothing wrong.
“It was wrong for President Trump to mention former Vice President Biden on that phone call, and it was wrong for him to ask a foreign country to investigate a political rival,” Senator Susan Collins of Maine declared, but added that removing him “could have unpredictable and potentially adverse consequences for public confidence in our electoral process.”
But Collins, like her Republican colleagues Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, was an outlier in admitting the president’s conduct was wrong. Most others in the caucus, like Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, deliberately missed the point, insisting that Democrats wanted the president removed for “pausing aid to Ukraine for a few weeks.”
What all these senators share is a willingness to ignore the nature of the offense. Both Collins, who has worked in government in some capacity since the 1970s, and Cotton, a Harvard-educated attorney, understood the basic constitutional arguments for removing a president who attempts to rig a reelection campaign in his favor, which is why they simply ignored them. Collins insisted that the matter be decided by the forthcoming election, disregarding the fact that Trump was impeached because he tried to use his official powers to manipulate that election, while Cotton simply pretended to be clueless about what was at issue.