Republican senators react after House impeachment managers present evidence in trial

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WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Senators, serving as jurors in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump, reacted Wednesday night to evidence presented by House impeachment managers earlier in the day.

“These guys were, I think they were very effective. And I’ll see what kind of arguments the defense put out. But yeah, I’m going to listen and draw conclusions when it’s all done,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the second-ranking Republican in the Senate. “I think they’ve done a good job connecting the dots. The president’s Twitter feed is a matter of public record and they’ve done, like I said, an effective job of going back several months and just showing that public record.”

The comments were made to reporters gathered outside the chamber as senators recessed for a dinner break.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the only Republican senator to vote in favor of former President Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020, said he didn’t realize how close he was to rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“It tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes. That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional,” Sen. Romney said.

Never before seen surveillance video presented by House impeachment managers showed Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, previously hailed as a hero for his actions on Jan. 6, telling Romney to turn around.

“I did not know that was Officer Goodman. I look forward to thanking him when I next see him,” Sen. Romney said.

“I was very fortunate indeed that Officer Goodman was there to get me in the right direction.”

Sen. Mitt Romney
U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman watches never-before-seen security footage of rioters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, during the second day of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 in the Capitol in Washington. Goodman, who has been lauded as a hero, warned Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the rioters were headed his way. Goodman also directed the mob away from the Senate door and the Chamber, and toward other officers. (Brandon Bell/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Sen. Ted Cruz, a supporter of the former president and one of a majority of Republicans who’ve voted that the trial is unconstitutional, told reporters that impeachment managers hadn’t made a strong enough legal argument.

“They spent a great deal of time focusing on the horrific acts of violence that were played out by the criminals, but the language from the president doesn’t come close to meeting the legal standard for incitement,” Sen. Cruz said.

Another Republican senator, who has expressed being open to conviction, called Wednesday afternoon’s evidence “riveting.”

“Obviously I’m not gonna make any final decision or any decision at all until I hear the other side, but the presentations were compelling, particularly by Representative Plaskett, and also I thought that the representative from Colorado was very good as well,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) referring to Del. Stacey Plaskett from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Colorado’s 2nd Congressional district.

Sen. Collins said the chamber was extremely quiet in the chamber as evidence was presented.

“You could have heard a pin drop,” she said.

Some Republicans argue this is not an impeachment trial.

“There’s no doubt that he bears some responsibility,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said of President Donald Trump. “If someone thinks he committed a crime then they need to go to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and make that argument.”

Sen. Rubio said that would “be hard to prove that in court.”

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, another Republican who has supported the constitutionality of the impeachment trial, said she wants to hear the former president’s defense before making a judgment.

However, she said, “I don’t see how Donald Trump could be reelected to the presidency and I just don’t see that.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, during a break on the second day of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), a supporter of the president told reporters “I’m still listening and watching” before returning back to the chamber for hearings.

He was asked if the evidence presented impacted his thinking as, he is processing how to vote.

“No, because I’ve seen I think most of it. I pay so close attention to it, and I think most of the footage, you know, we had seen before, so. But I think it’s good to review it. But I don’t know that that’s going to make a difference for any one senator just having it on a loop again. But every time you do watch it it gives you the enormity of the day, so, and the incident.”

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.)

“Well, clearly I hope that every single one of those people that breached the Capitol rot in prison,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

He said the evidence presented by House impeachment managers made him angry.

“My problem with this is not the case that’s being presented but the process that led up to this,” said Sen. Tillis when asked by reporters about how he will vote.

After the dinner recess, House managers continued outlining the sequence of events. They adjourned for the day shortly before 8 p.m. (EST). Former President Trump’s defense is expected to present their case later in the week.

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