Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin told CNN anchor Jake Tapper Sunday that Senate members “have to follow their own conscience” on President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Durbin told Tapper on CNN’s “State of The Union” that he doesn’t know how members of his own caucus will vote to convict Trump.
“I don’t know the answer to that. We haven’t whipped it. I would agree with Senator [Mitch] McConnell in this respect, it is an issue of conscience,” Durbin said.
“We will of course try to find out how members feel, but in terms of arm twisting, when it comes to impeachment, you don’t do that,” Durbin said.
McConnell, the Senate majority leader, told Republican senators that they should vote how they want in Trump’s impeachment trial, which will not occur before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Business Insider reported on Saturday.
“His message to me was this would clearly be a vote of conscience,” Republican North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota told Business Insider during an interview. “He’s always been respectful of members that way.”
The House voted on Jan. 13 to impeach Trump a second time with a vote of 232-197, charging him with a single article of “incitement of insurrection.” Rioters breached the Capitol building on Jan. 6 during a march that had turned into a deadly riot against the Electoral College’s certification of the presidential election results.
Durbin told CNN that votes weren’t whipped during the previous impeachment trials and that he doesn’t anticipate votes to be whipped in Trump’s impeachment trial.
“When it comes to an issue of this gravity and constitutional importance, members really have to follow their own conscience. It isn’t a matter of saying, come on, the team has to all vote together. It just doesn’t happen,” Durbin told Tapper.
Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and David Cicilline of Rhode Island headed the House impeachment effort. Republican Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and John Katko of New York were among 10 House Republicans that voted for impeaching the president.
Durbin’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.