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Senator Ron Johnson blows up at Mitt Romney at impeachment trial as GOP fractures

Senator Ron Johnson blows up at Mitt Romney at impeachment trial as GOP fractures

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The impeachment trial of Donald Trump is raising tensions between Republican senators and potentially fracturing the party irreparably.

With reports of establishment anti-Trump Republicans breaking with the GOP to start a new center-right party divorced from the right-wing extremists, QAnon devotees, and unrepentant racists who have come to dominate the party in the Trump era, five Republican senators broke party ranks this morning to vote to allow the impeachment managers to call witnesses before any vote on the ex-president’s guilt is taken.

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) all joined Democrats in a 55-to-45 vote to support the call for more witnesses and evidence in the trial after Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) confirmed late Friday evening that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had told her that Mr. Trump said in a phone call in the middle of the invasion of the Capitol that the rioters were more upset about the election than Mr. McCarthy was.

That response, rather than making any effort to call in the National Guard to help control the situation, could prove pivotal in Democrats’ effort to gain a conviction in the impeachment trial, especially since Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he is leaning towards acquittal based on the evidence presented thus far.

A public manifestation of the GOP’s internal tensions was on display immediately after the vote to allow the calling of witnesses was passed when Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Mitt Romney exchanged harsh words in raised voices on the Senate floor.

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Senator Johnson was described as “visibly upset” as he gesticulated at Romney while loudly exclaiming something that included the words: “Blame you.”

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Politico congressional reporter Andrew Desiderio tweeted out the details available of the confrontation so far.

Add your name to demand the Senate CONVICT DONALD TRUMP for inciting an insurrection against the United States!

While Senator Johnson may not be happy that his outburst towards the Utah senator who was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump at his first impeachment trial was overheard, he was the one who is blamed for initiating the exchange in a public forum rather than waiting to confront Romney in private later on.

The airing of the GOP’s dirty laundry pales in comparison, of course, to the events that are being discussed in the impeachment trial, especially since there are several senators in the Republican caucus who were equally culpable as Trump in promoting the “big lie” that election was stolen from him due to claims of election fraud for which they were never able to produce any credible evidence.

The decision to allow witnesses to be called in the impeachment trial means that that vote on whether to convict Trump on the impeachment charges of inciting the insurrection will be delayed further until the witnesses are deposed and the Senate considers the testimony that they give.

It also means that Congress will have less time to move forward with its regular business and the urgent task of passing President Biden’s pandemic relief legislative package.

Without seeing justice be served for the events of January 6th, however, it’s difficult to see how America can move forward past the horrors of the Trump era, no matter how glad we are to finally have the ex-president’s daily presence reduced to dispatches from the impeachment trial.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter. 

Original reporting by Matthew Chapman at RawStory.

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