Most Republican senators vote to declare Trump impeachment trial unconstitutional
Nearly every Senate Republican voted that it is unconstitutional to try a former president for impeachment, which deals an early but not fatal blow to the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
The vote, forced by GOP Senator Rand Paul, underscores the significant hurdles faced by the House's impeachment executives, who must convince at least 17 Republican senators to achieve a conviction. However, 45 GOP senators voted to make the exercise unconstitutional. only five joined all Democrats in the opposition.
Paul's efforts reflect the popular belief among Republicans that the Senate should not hold impeachment proceedings against Trump since he is now a private individual and therefore not subject to impeachment punishment.
GOP Senator Rand Paul will force a vote Tuesday on whether it is constitutional to try a former president for impeachment.
Paul's efforts reflect the popular belief among Republicans that the Senate should not hold impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump because he is now a private individual and therefore not subject to impeachment punishment.
The Kentucky Republican plans to discuss rules of procedure with the Senate MP on Tuesday afternoon just before the Senators are tried for Trump's second impeachment trial. His attempt is sure to fail, but the final balance sheet could anticipate the possibility of Trump being convicted, which will require the support of two-thirds of the chamber.
"I think there will be enough support to show that there is no chance of indicting the president," Paul told reporters. "If 34 people support my resolution that this is an unconstitutional process, it shows that they do not have the votes and that we are basically wasting our time."
The House charged Trump earlier this month with inciting the Capitol uprising on Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters stormed the building in a rampage that killed five people.
Republicans and Democrats have criticized Trump's behavior and rhetoric that led to the uprising by making unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud and falsely claiming that the 2020 presidential election had been "stolen" from him. Only 10 House Republicans voted with all Democrats against Trump.
In a subsequent speech in the Senate, Paul said Democrats were "angry partisans who are disturbed by their hatred of the former president."
"Shame on those who seek guilt and revenge and choose to falsify a constitutional process," said Paul. "I want this body to be registered - every last person here."
All 50 Democrats are likely to vote against Paul's motion. With at least 17 Republicans joining the Democrats, two-thirds of the Senate have declared the process constitutional, leaving the possibility of at least 17 GOP Senators voting in favor of Trump.
Republicans have sought the legal argument that the Senate has no power to bring a former president to justice. Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, who has defended Trump on similar matters in the past, met with GOP senators for a weekly lunch on Tuesday.
Critics of this legal argument note that federal courts have consistently postponed Congress to establish its own rules and procedures, including the Senate's "sole power" to hold impeachment trials, as set out in the Constitution. They also say that a president or other public official subject to impeachment could simply resign immediately prior to the Senate convicting the individual, avoiding punishment that could include prohibiting re-exercise of federal public office.
Dick Durbin, Senate majority whip, said of Paul's efforts, "He has a wealth of very unusual ideas."
Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has indicated that he would vote in favor of condemning Trump in the process, backed up against Paul's efforts, saying, "The preponderance of opinions regarding the constitutionality of a trial against a former president says it is a constitutional process and that is why I intend to vote that way. "
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