But they rationale their decision to not take his job as a political one they will make to save Trump and their own butts…
In sparing the president a continued spectacle, the senators pointedly offered the defense that many GOP senators wished to make all along: That Trump’s actions, while odious, were not deserving of the political death sentence.
As more revelations from former national security adviser John Bolton’s book flowed, senators shrugged. They knew what he’d done, they said. It was not great, they added, but not that bad. They were ready to move on.
“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky.
He then explained why he would not vote against the president. “The Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate,” Alexander said.
While the terms were entirely different, it was in one respect similar to former president Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial: Democratic senators impugned Clinton’s conduct and questioned his morals for lying about sex in the White House — but did not believe it rose to the level of impeachable offenses…
A number of Republican senators agreed that Trump should not have asked Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, former vice president Joe Biden’s son, during the phone call while raising a debunked theory about a Democratic National Committee server and Ukrainian interference in the election.
That Trump should not have withheld foreign aid to Ukraine for months, raising questions about the United States’ support for the country at war with Russia and sending Congress and the foreign policy firmament into a perplexed tizzy.
That Trump should not have involved his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani in an irregular foreign policy channel to “attempt to interfere in an investigation,” in Giuliani’s own words.
And that Trump should not have ousted career diplomat Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine after a smear campaign that even some of his own administration officials admitted was filled with erroneous information.
Many of the senators did not try to justify or explain the president’s conduct. Some mentioned an election in nine months or other Trump accomplishments. “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said.
Alexander said the case had been proved. Trump was guilty. He was just not going to convict.