Senator Rand Paul declared Tuesday that the second impeachment of former President Trump is “dead on arrival” in the Senate after 45 Senate Republicans backed an effort to preemptively declare the trial unconstitutional.
The Kentucky Republican on Tuesday forced a point of order vote on holding an impeachment trial, arguing the Senate should not take up the House’s single impeachment article against Trump because he has since left office. The motion failed in a 55-45 vote, but only five Republicans defected.
“If you voted that it was unconstitutional, how in the world would you ever vote to convict somebody for this?” Paul told reporters after the vote. “This vote indicates it’s over. The trial is all over.”
Some senate Republicans — including Rob Portman of Ohio, who announced on Tuesday that he would not seek reelection — said their vote in favor of Paul’s motion did not necessarily reflect their views on impeachment, since it was over a narrow procedural point.
The House voted earlier this month to impeach Trump on “incitement of insurrection” over his rhetoric before and during the riot at the Capitol on January 6 that resulted in five dead.
In order for Trump to be convicted, two-thirds of the Senate or 67 senators must vote in favor of impeachment, meaning 17 Republican senators still need to be swayed. Some of the GOP senators who voted against the trial said they will take into account the evidence presented by House impeachment managers, but Democrats are still expected to fall short of the votes needed to convict.
Five senate Republicans, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey voted with Democrats in favor of the trial moving forward. Collins admitted that the numbers were simply not there to convict Trump.
GOP Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who voted with Paul, said he does not think Democrats expect to have enough votes to convict Trump.
“I don’t think this is about accomplishing that. I think this is an effort to embarrass not only the former president but also members of the opposing party,” Cornyn said.
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