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Boozman, Cotton vote to acquit

Congress lacked authority to try private citizen, they say by Frank E. Lockwood | February 14, 2021 at 4:20 a.m.
U.S. Sens. John Boozman, left, and Tom Cotton are shown in these file photos.

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton voted Saturday to acquit former President Donald Trump of inciting insurrection.

The Arkansas Republicans said Congress lacked constitutional authority to try a private citizen.

"I believe that impeachment is reserved primarily for removing people from office. The president's removed," Boozman told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after voting to find the accused"not guilty."

If Trump has done something wrong, "there are all kinds of vehicles to punish the president," but impeachment isn't one of them, Boozman said.

In an interview, Boozman accused House managers of using hearsay to undercut Trump.

"I was disappointed in the prosecutors. I think it was pretty evident that they were playing fast and loose with the facts and doctoring evidence, and they didn't need to do that," the lawmaker from Rogers said. "It illustrated the fact that this is a political endeavor versus a court of law."

Asked whether Trump had honored his oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution," Boozman said, "I came out early on and said that the President [Joe Biden] had won the election and also that I would not have done the same thing in regard to summoning people to Washington. I don't believe he summoned them, though, here to ransack the Capitol."

Trump has been impeached twice by the House and acquitted twice by the Senate.

Boozman said he fears that the impeachments won't be the last.

"My concern is we're going to see much more impeachment in the future," Boozman said. "If you're the majority party, and you want to intimidate or punish a president, this is so easy to do now."

Asked about the seven Republican senators who voted for conviction, Boozman said, "This was not a party line vote, [where] you've got to do this or that to be Republican."

"Everybody had to kind of search their souls and do what they felt like was right," he said.

Asked about the votes, Cotton told the Democrat-Gazette, "I respect all 99 of my Senate colleagues. I know that they're good people who are trying to do the right thing."

The legal underpinnings for the case were flawed, the lawmaker from Little Rock argued.

"As I said the day the House passed its rushed article of impeachment, I thought it was beyond the Senate's constitutional authority to proceed in a trial to convict and remove from office a man who's now been out of office for almost a month. A vast majority of Republicans agree with that sentiment," he said.

Asked about the president's actions on Jan. 6, Cotton said, "It was ill-advised to have a large rally on the day that Congress was meeting to certify electors after so much contentious litigation and controversy about the election results, but the main people responsible for what happened at the Capitol were the criminals who breached the perimeter and then those who committed serious crimes inside the Capitol grounds."

Cotton criticized the House for passing a "rushed article of impeachment," pointing to facts about the Jan. 6 insurrection that remain unknown.

That includes information about "the vice president and his whereabouts and the timeline of the president's knowledge about his whereabouts," Cotton said.

"Most of these questions were knowable questions that they could have discovered had they taken a bit more time and had more process and had witnesses in the House of Representatives. They even had a chance today, after winning the witness votes, to pursue that line of inquiry, yet they immediately caved in and backpedaled," he said.

Asked about the possibility of Trump running for president in 2024, Cotton said, "I don't want to speculate about an election that's four years away. We've got a lot of important elections in between there and, most importantly, we have very important business to do [on] the Senate floor in the weeks ahead."

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