Romney the only senator to defect from party in impeachment vote

Mitt Romney was the lone senator to break from either party's position on Tuesday when the upper chamber of Congress voted to acquit President Trump of the two articles of impeachment brought against him by the House.

Romney, who made his intentions know during the debate on the articles of impeachment, voted in favor of finding Trump guilty of abuse of power. The Utah Republican, however, stuck with his party in voting not guilty on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress.

SENATE ACQUITS TRUMP ON ABUSE OF POWER, OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESS CHARGES

“The president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust,” an emotional Romney said in an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace before the impeachment vote. “What he did was not perfect. No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values."

Romney's move to defy his party drew praise from Democrats across the aisle, while the Republican response was more muted.

“I think Sen. Romney’s speech will go down as one of the most important in the Senate," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, told Fox News. "There’s still honor in this place. There’s still individuals willing to put party aside when the country was on the line. I think a lot of people are going to read that speech for centuries.”‬

In the lead-up to Wednesday’s decision in the Senate, there was widespread speculation that Romney would not be the only lawmaker to buck his or her party.

On the Republican side, many were looking to see if Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine would side with Democrats and find Trump guilty of at least one of the articles of impeachment. Along with Romney, both senators are some of Trump’s fiercest critics in his own Republican Party.

But when it came to decision time, both Murkowski and Collins found Trump not guilty on both articles of impeachment.

In her floor speech on Monday, Murkowski said Trump's "behavior was shameful and wrong" with Ukraine but argued against removing him from office, calling for voters to make a judgment in November's election.

"The response to the president's behavior is not to disenfranchise nearly 63 million Americans and remove him from the ballot," she said. "The House could have pursued censure and not immediately jumped to the remedy of last resort."

The Alaska senator added: "The voters will pronounce a verdict in nine months and we must trust their judgment."

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Among Democrats, there was concern that a number of senators in swing states would decide to find Trump not guilty – namely Doug Jones of Alabama, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Manchin stirred up arguably the most concern among his fellow Democrats when he said during his floor speech that he was “struggling” over whether or not to convict Trump and that the Senate should vote to censure Trump instead.

"Never before in the history of our republic has there been a purely partisan impeachment vote of a president," Manchin said. "Removing this president at this time would not only further divide our deeply divided nation, but also further poison our already toxic political atmosphere."

He added: "I see no path to the 67 votes [requried to convict and remove] President Trump. However, I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump. ... Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines."

Manchin, along with Jones and Sinema, did not cross party lines on Wednesday when all three voted to find Trump guilty on both articles of impeachment.

Fox News' Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.