Only 5 Senate Republicans Vote To Continue With Senate Trial Of Trump
On Tuesday, Senate Republicans rallied against former President Donald Trump‘s second impeachment trial. Trump is being tried for “incitement of insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but just five Republican senators joined all Democrats in a vote to go forward with the trial.
With a Senate vote of 55-to-45, 45 Republican senators voted to dismiss Trump’s impeachment charge because he is no longer in office, despite his role in the Capitol attacks.
“I think it’s pretty obvious from the vote today that it is extraordinarily unlikely that the president will be convicted,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the five Republicans who voted to proceed to trial. “Just do the math.”
To attain a conviction, it would take two-thirds of senators, or 67 votes, to find Trump guilty, meaning 17 Republicans would have to cross party lines and vote to continue with the trial.
Along with Collins, the four other Republicans who sided with the Democrats were Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) and Patrick Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), stating that they were open to hearing the House’s impeachment case.
The next round of the trial convenes on Feb. 9, giving senators two weeks to change their views. Republicans who voted on Tuesday to uphold the constitutional challenge clarified that they remained open-minded about the trial.
Republicans are familiar with the hold Trump has on the party’s base and knows the risks of crossing him. The GOP congressmen who voted for impeachment are receiving considerable backlash, both in their home states and Washington.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was among those speaking out against Trump, publicly asserting that Trump “provoked” the mob. McConnell has not yet made any public comments about his views of the vote.
On Tuesday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) was sworn in as presiding officer of the trial, asking all 100 senators to take an oath to “administer “impartial justice” during the trial.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) made a constitutional objection to the proceedings minutes after the Senate convened as a court of impeachment. McConnell then voted in favor of the challenge, along with the majority of his conference.
“Private citizens don’t get impeached,” Paul said, calling the trial “deranged” and vindictive. “Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office,” he continued.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) opposed Paul in a strongly worded speech. “The theory that the impeachment of a former official is unconstitutional is flat-out wrong by every frame of analysis,” he said. “It has been completely debunked by constitutional scholars from all across the political spectrum.”
When the 55-45 vote was finalized, Paul declared victory, saying, “Forty-five votes means the impeachment trial is dead on arrival.”
Despite their votes to uphold Paul’s objection, other Republicans claimed that their votes should not be read as a vote to acquit Trump.
The argument over the trial’s constitutionality will continue when it reconvenes, allowing senators to seek to use it as a justification for voting to acquit, if they desire. The House managers have begun preparing constitutional justification for the proceeding, and Trump’s lawyers will have the opportunity to argue for their defense.