Delaware Sens. Carper and Coons vote to convict Trump

DOVER — Unsurprisingly, Delaware’s senators, both Democrats, voted to convict President Donald Trump Wednesday.

Tom Carper and Chris Coons voted to remove the president from office on separate counts of abuse of power and obstruction of justice, although the Senate acquitted him.

Sen. Tom Carper. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

Speaking on the floor, Sen. Carper appealed to history, giving an overview of the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and the challenges the United States has faced over the 232-plus years since the document was signed.

“A vote to acquit is the realization of our Founders’ worst fears — leaving a president with the impulses of a king unchecked by the other co-equal branches of government and undeterred by the prospect of impeachment,” Sen. Carper said. “Donald Trump violated his oath. He broke the law.

“He attempted to cheat in the 2020 election, and, when he got caught, left little doubt that he will cheat again. That is not the conduct we expect of our president. That is the conduct of someone who believes that he is above the law. Donald Trump is our president, not our king.

“Colleagues, if our destiny is to remain the most enduring democracy in the history of the world, we must not leave this matter to chance. We must choose to preserve and protect our Constitution. And to do so, we must convict Donald Trump on both articles of impeachment and remove him from office.”

The Senate trial was hardly fair, Sen. Carper said, referencing the Senate’s vote against calling witnesses. Just two of the 53 Republicans in the chamber supported hearing from witnesses.

History will judge harshly those who sought to “prevent the truth from coming to light,” he said.

Sen. Chris Coons. Delaware State News file photo

To Sen. Coons, the trial demonstrated “the Senate has failed an historic test of our ability to put country over party.”

While he expressed a hope the president would act as Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did in trying to bring people together, Sen. Coons said “some might suggest it would be hopelessly naive to expect of President Trump that he would apologize or strive to heal our country or do the important work of safeguarding our next election.”

Both senators noted the president’s defense team did not seek to rebut the accusations. Instead, Sen. Carper said, members relied on “distractions, conspiracy theories and unfounded smears” and “a far-fetched legal theory that presidents cannot be impeached for soliciting foreign interference in our elections if they believe their own re-election is in the national interest.”

Both senators have long championed bipartisanship but on Wednesday lamented the divide in Congress.

“I recognize that many of my colleagues have made up their minds. No matter what decision you have reached, I think it is a sad day for our country,” Sen. Coons told the Senate. “I myself have never been on a crusade to impeach Donald Trump as has been alleged against all Democrats. I’ve sought ways to work across the aisle with his administration.

“But in the years that have followed his election, I have increasingly become convinced that our President is not just unconventional. He is not just testing the boundaries of our norms and traditions. He is at times unmoored.

“Throughout this trial, I have heard from Delawareans who are frustrated that the Senate refused to hear from witnesses or subpoena documents needed to uncover all of the facts about the President’s misconduct. I have heard from Delawareans who fear our President believes he’s above the law, and that he acts as if he is the law. I have also heard from Delawareans who just want us to find a way to work together.”

Sen. Coons also shared fears about the security of the upcoming election, noting Russia interfered with the 2016 contest.

“So, to my colleagues: Do you doubt that President Trump did what he is accused of? Do you doubt he would do it again?” he said. “Do you think for even one moment he would refuse the help of foreign agents to smear any one of us if he thought it was in his best political interests?

“And I have to ask what becomes of our democracy when elections become a no-holds-barred blood-sport, when our foreign adversaries become our allies, and when Americans of the opposing party become our enemies?”

Sen. Carper closed by referencing a famous story about Benjamin Franklin and the Constitutional Convention.

“Today, I pose the same questions to our colleagues. What do we have? A monarchy or a republic?” he asked. “I leave you with my answer. We have a Republic, and I intend to keep it.”