Susan Collins

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, returns to the Senate chamber on Saturday as senators considered hearing from witnesses in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine voted Saturday afternoon to convict former President Donald Trump of inciting the mob of his supporters who attacked the Capitol last month.

“My vote in this trial stems from my own oath and duty to defend the Constitution of the United States,” Collins, a Republican, said in a speech on the Senate floor. “The abuse of power and betrayal of his oath by President Trump meet the constitutional standards of high crimes and misdemeanors, and for those reasons I voted to convict Donald J. Trump.”

King explained his reasons in a prepared statement.

“For the long-term health of our democracy, I voted to convict and send a strong message to future generations that attacks on America’s democratic values will not be swept under the rug,” he said. “This must be done not just to mete out justice, but also to deter anyone in such a position in the future from abusing the powers of the office.”

The former president was acquitted in his second impeachment trial. Not enough Republican senators joined Democrats to reach the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump. The final tally was 57 guilty votes to 43 not guilty.

The House of Representatives impeached Trump last month on a single charge that he had incited a mass of his supporters to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, part of a campaign of misinformation and fabrication intended overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Five people died in the attack.

In her speech, Collins said Trump spent two months attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 presidential election that Joe Biden won, and convinced many of his supporters that he could only have lost if it was stolen and that any officials upholding the results were enemies of their cause. His direction to supporters on Jan. 6 to go to the U.S. Capitol was like tossing a lit match onto dry leaves, she added.

“Instead of preventing a dangerous situation, President Trump created one,” Collins said. “And instead of defending the transfer of power, he incited an insurrection with the purpose of preventing that transfer of power from occurring.”

Collins joined six other Republican senators who voted to convict the former president: Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

In his statement, King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said days of presentations in the impeachment trial demonstrated that the former president’s “complicity in the horrific acts of Jan. 6 is undeniable.”

King also voted to convict Trump in his first impeachment trial last February. That case was focused on Trump’s alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from pressure on Ukrainian officials to provide damaging information on Biden. Trump was acquitted of those charges by a vote of 52 not guilty to 48 guilty.

“Unfortunately, too many of my Republican colleagues have chosen to let former President Trump off the hook – again,” King said Saturday.

“We need all future political leaders to know that they cannot fan the flames of an insurrection without consequences; we need all Americans to know that our political differences are solved at the ballot box, not through brute force,” he added. “Today’s failure to convict former President Trump is a step backwards – but our work to steward American self-governance for the next generation must continue.”

Democratic 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree, who voted to impeach Trump last month, said Americans had for months seen him spread the “big lie” that the election was stolen from him. On Jan. 6, the former president whipped up “a violent mob to overturn an election he lost,” Pingree said in a statement Saturday.

“The House was right to impeach and it is tragic that many Republican senators chose their party over our democracy today,” Pingree said.

Democratic 2nd District Rep. Jared Golden, who voted for impeachment in January, did not issue a statement about the Senate’s vote on Saturday.

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