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Rubio Explains ‘Political Judgment’ in Impeachment Vote: ‘Voters Themselves Can Hold the President Accountable’

Senator Marco Rubio on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., January 29, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fl.) released a statement ahead of the Senate’s Friday vote on calling impeachment witnesses, explaining that he opposed both new witnesses and voting to remove the president based on a “political judgment — one that takes into account both the severity of the wrongdoing alleged but also the impact removal would have on the nation.”

Rubio, who said in November that a decision on impeachment “should be made on what is in the best interest of our country,” echoed his previous comments in arguing a distinction between presidential misconduct and removable offenses.

“The two are not the same. 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,” Rubio stated. “. . . Can anyone doubt that at least half of the country would view his removal as illegitimate — as nothing short of a coup d’état? It is difficult to conceive of any scheme Putin could undertake that would undermine confidence in our democracy more than removal would.”

The Florida Republican also called impeachment an “extraordinary power” and “a last-resort remedy to protect the country.” He signaled that the upcoming 2020 election played a factor in his determination, saying that “voters themselves can hold the President accountable in an election, including the one just nine months from now.”

“That is why Hamilton wrote that in these trials our decisions should be pursuing ‘the public good,’” Rubio added. He pointed to resisting calls to impeach President Obama in 2014 as proof of his commitment to “this high bar.”

“I will not vote to remove the President because doing so would inflict extraordinary and potentially irreparable damage to our already divided nation,” Rubio concluded.

Rubio’s statement accompanied a number of other Republican senators making their intentions on the vote public ahead of Friday’s hearing. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) became the second Republican swing vote to publicly oppose additional witnesses, likely ensuring that the trial will not include further witnesses.

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