Pro-democracy groups and other progressives slammed Sen. Marco Rubio Friday after he admitted President Donald Trump took actions that are impeachable—but said he nevertheless plans to oppose removing him from office.
The Florida Republican released a statement on Trump's impeachment trial mid-day Friday, shortly after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) indicated she would vote against calling witnesses to testify, paving the way for Republicans to potentially end the trial with an acquittal of the president.
"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 said.
Rubio wrote that even assuming the allegations that Trump attempted to bribe the Ukrainian government by withholding military aid and demanding officials launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden are true, the impact of removing the president would harm the nation because removal is not supported by most Americans.
In fact, a poll released late last month by Microsoft News showed that 55% of Americans backed removing Trump from office. Last week, a Politico/Morning Consult survey showed that 47% of the public supported removal while only 45% opposed.
Rubio's statement amounted to an open acknowledgment that "he is abrogating his oath to uphold the Constitution," tweeted CNN analyst Sam Vinograd.
— Sam Vinograd (@sam_vinograd) January 31, 2020
Other political observers accused Rubio of cowardice and of twisting himself into "the world's biggest political pretzel" to justify allowing Trump to continue serving as president.
I’m sorry. Are you saying that Trump’s actions meet the threshold for impeachment but you’re refusing to do your duty according to the constitution?
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— Kaz Weida (@kazweida) January 31, 2020
cowards look at marco rubio and remark, "now, that's a coward!" https://t.co/wBi6FJH1xL
— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) January 31, 2020
The world's biggest political pretzel award goes to Little Marco Rubio. https://t.co/3htNLl5gk2
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) January 31, 2020
— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) January 31, 2020
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) January 31, 2020
Rubio's statement came hours after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced he would not support calling witnesses to testify, saying that while Trump's actions were "inappropriate" and undermined "the principle of equal justice under the law," he should remain in office.
Remarkable: GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander, Rob Portman, and Marco Rubio (sort of, in his own sad little cowardly way) have all now openly admitted that Trump committed abuse of power. They think he’s guilty as charged, but that he should not be removed.
— Mark Follman (@markfollman) January 31, 2020
Rubio's comments came a week after Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is leading the Democrats' case against Trump, gave a closing argument last weekexplaining why removing the president from office is crucial, considering, as Schiff believes, "we all know he did" what he's been charged with.
"If the truth doesn't matter" to Republican senators, Schiff said at the time, "we're lost."