Senate Vote Appears to Signal Second Acquittal Coming for Trump
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan effort in the Senate Tuesday narrowly killed a Republican push to dismiss the impeachment charge against former President Donald Trump as unconstitutional.
The staunch opposition of all but a handful of Republicans in the 55-45 vote, underscored Trump’s apparent continued strength in the party despite his being accused of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead.
The vote came on a motion by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who sought to declare the approaching impeachment trial unconstitutional.
“Private citizens don’t get impeached. Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office,” Paul said in a fiery speech on the Senate floor.
“I want this body on record — every last person here,” he added. “Is this how you think politics should be?”
In the end, only Republican Sens. Mitt Romney, of Utah, Ben Sasse, of Neb., Susan Collins, of Maine, Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, and Pat Toomey, of Penn., voted with the Democrats to table Paul’s point of order.
The vote is the clearest sign yet that Trump is heading toward a second acquittal and offers an early insight into which Republicans are lining up behind an argument that his second impeachment trial isn’t constitutional.
Before the vote, Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer responded to Paul, telling him “the theory that the impeachment of a former official is unconstitutional is flat out wrong by every frame of analysis, Constitutional context, historical practice, precedent and basic common sense.”
“It’s been completely debunked by Constitutional scholars from all across the political spectrum,” he said.
After the trial in the Senate, which is scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 8, it would take two- thirds of the senators — 67 votes — to attain a conviction. That means 17 Republicans would have to cross party lines to side with Democrats in finding him guilty.
There is a chance some Republicans may still side with the Democrats.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, has indicated that he believes Trump committed impeachable offenses surrounding the deadly Capitol siege.
He’s also said publicly, that he is undecided on the charge. On Tuesday, however, he voted with Paul.
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