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Senate Republicans unite behind failed effort to challenge Trump impeachment trial

By Reuters
27 Jan 2021 8

WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Forty-five Senate Republicans backed a failed effort on Tuesday to halt former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, in a show of party unity that some cited as a clear sign he will not be convicted of inciting insurrection at the Capitol.

By David Morgan

 

Republican Senator Rand Paul made a motion on the Senate floor that would have required the chamber to vote on whether Trump’s trial in February violates the U.S. Constitution.

The Democratic-led Senate blocked the motion in a 55-45 vote. But only five Republican lawmakers joined Democrats to reject the move, far short of the 17 Republicans who would need to vote to convict Trump on an impeachment charge that he incited the Jan. 6 Capitol assault that left five people dead.

“It’s one of the few times in Washington where a loss is actually a victory,” Paul later told reporters. “Forty-five votes means the impeachment trial is dead on arrival.”

Paul and other Republicans contend that the proceedings are unconstitutional because Trump left office last Wednesday and the trial will be overseen by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy instead of by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts.

Leahy, 80, was briefly hospitalized on Tuesday evening after not feeling well but was released after an examination, his spokesman, David Carle, said in a statement.

Some Republican senators who backed Paul’s motion said their vote on Tuesday did not indicate how they might come down on Trump’s guilt or innocence after a trial.

“It’s a totally different issue as far as I’m concerned,” Republican Senator Rob Portman told reporters.

The senators voted after being sworn in as jurors for the impeachment trial.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who moved to thwart Paul’s motion, dismissed the Republican constitutional claim as “flat-out wrong” and said it would provide “a constitutional get-out-of-jail-free card” for presidents guilty of misconduct.

There is a debate among scholars over whether the Senate can hold a trial for Trump now that he has left office. Many experts have said “late impeachment” is constitutional, arguing that presidents who engage in misconduct late in their terms should not be immune from the very process set out in the Constitution for holding them accountable.

The Constitution makes clear that impeachment proceedings can result in disqualification from holding office in the future, so there is still an active issue for the Senate to resolve, those scholars have said.

 

‘MATTER OF POLITICAL CONSEQUENCE’

Fellow Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who has been critical of Trump, rejected Paul’s move.

“My review of it has led me to conclude that it is constitutional, in recognizing that impeachment is not solely about removing a president, it is also a matter of political consequence,” Murkowski told reporters on Tuesday.

She joined fellow Republicans Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Ben Sasse and Patrick Toomey in opposing Paul.

Trump is the only president to have been impeached by the House of Representatives twice and the first to face a trial after leaving power, with the possibility of being disqualified from future public office if convicted by two-thirds of the Senate.

He was acquitted by the then Republican-controlled Senate last February on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress arising from his request that Ukraine investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son.

The House approved a single article of impeachment – the equivalent of an indictment in a criminal trial – on Jan. 13, accusing him of inciting an insurrection with an incendiary speech to supporters before they stormed the Capitol. A police officer and four others died in the melee.

But reaching the two-thirds threshold required for conviction will be a steep climb. Trump remains a powerful force among Republicans and his supporters have vowed to mount election challenges to lawmakers in the party who support conviction.

Some Republicans have criticized Trump’s false claims of voting fraud and his failed efforts to overturn Biden’s Nov. 3 election victory. But no Senate Republicans have said definitively that they plan to vote to convict him.

Although the Constitution calls on the chief justice to preside over presidential impeachment trials, a senator presides when the impeached is not the current president, a Senate source said. First elected to the chamber in 1974, Leahy is the most senior Democrat in the chamber and holds the title of Senate president pro tempore.

The nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors set the trial in motion on Monday by delivering the article of impeachment to the Senate.

 

 

(Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Makini Brice and Jan Wolfe in Boston; Editing by Alistair Bell, Grant McCool and Peter Cooney)

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All Comments 8

  • So, the trial to find if Tramp is guilty or innocent will be presided not by a Judge, but one of the politicians from the same party who is committed to find him guilty at any cost. The aim of avoiding the risk that Tramp returns as candidate is disguising the real objective, which is to eliminate the opposition and conservatives and dissidents by censoring them, blocking them, ‘deprograming’ them and ostracising them. It is absolutely essential to get the absolute power and control to impose their will in thoughts and deeds…….Think of an ANC of the disUnited States of DemockRatic SinoAmerica.

  • The Republicans have become a party of crooks and cheats the same as the “****holes” down here. If I was American I would have to vote Democrat just to make sure these people didn’t destroy my country. Very sad.

  • Many hours before the issue of impeachment was tabled for debate yesterday, I had pointed out in another submission that the only thing one needs to do … is look at the long history of McConnell. This disguised white supremacist (who vowed the make the first black US president a ‘one term’ president – and failed!) has a litany of disingenuous ‘arguments’ to suit whatever situations arise ! His outburst against Trump’s actions on the day of the insurrection, was simply an attempt to say the ‘right thing’ in the moment. He (like many politicians of all persuations) will say whatever is convenient rather than that which is founded on principle or ethics. I had predicted his flip-flop to support the pseudo intellectual Paul argument. It was an argument that they bought into from clown professor (so called expert) Thurley, who is in the same class as Prof. Dershowitz who also defended the paedophile Epstein. These two clown professors (not unlike Trump) have learnt and forged a ‘career’ out of obtuse arguments. The logic of their argument in this instance follows this : you can commit a crime while in ‘office’ and be charged with it, BUT… if you leave office after you have been charged, you no longer need to face that charge. That is even before a ‘hearing’ of evidence takes place ! How fantastical and logical is that ! And they needed the input of a ‘well respected’, ‘learned’, ‘leading’, professor of law to that ‘logic’. To quote that infantile and intellectually impaired Nikki Haley (whom the Republicans want to propose as their next presidential candidate…because of her Indian heritage which she has concealed pretty well up to now while coziying up to white supremacists)…..”give Trump (me) a break!!” Just how low can you go ?

  • At least Kanu got close 🙂 Almost !
    DT is a civilian , how can he be impeached ?
    Was not charged before he left office !
    The Dems tried that as soon as soon as he got in and grasping at straws when he is gone !
    “He was acquitted by the then Republican-controlled Senate last February on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress arising from his request that Ukraine investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son.”
    That was deemed too ‘Politically sensitive ‘ before the election .
    So investigation swept under the carpet !
    Joe Jnr’s Ukraine connection is well known , is he still sitting on the board ?
    And that funny funding scheme , made him a few hundred million $$$ .
    And that nice diamond ?
    The Dems want ‘political consequence’ even though he has left office .
    As for election fraud ………all that smoke and not even a campfire ?
    Big Tech and Wall street fought back , along with the mainstream media !
    Too much money involved !

  • The US is a mess thanks to dishonest and corrupt politicians. Technically it’s not a democracy anymore as free speech is increasingly prohibited and censored.