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Admitting Trump's Actions Are Worthy of Impeachment, Rubio Nonetheless Declines to Support Removing President From Office

"In which Marco Rubio openly acknowledges he is abrogating his oath to uphold the Constitution."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) arrives at the U.S. Capitol as the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump continues on January 31, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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.

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.

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.

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."

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