Senators were sworn in as jurors to President Trump’s impeachment trial Tuesday as the Senate voted 55-45 to end debate on Sen. Rand Paul’s point of order arguing that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional now that Trump is out of office.
Five GOP senators voted not to dismiss the impeachment trial of President Trump: Susan Collins, Maine, Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, Ben Sasse, Neb., and Pat Toomey, Pa. They voted with all 50 Democrat senators to table the point of order.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has indicated he has an open mind on whether Trump should be convicted, voted against ending debate.
Paul, R-Ky., had told reporters earlier that he would make a point of order alleging that the trial is contrary to the Constitution — an argument that multiple Republican senators have made. That forced a vote on the point of order, requiring senators to go on the record about whether they believe the trial is constitutional.
The Senate also passed its pre-trial organizing resolution 83 to 17, and the impeachment trial will be adjourned until Tuesday, Feb. 9, as Sen. Republican leader Mitch McConnell had been pushing for.
Paul said he expected his resolution to prove there would be “no chance” of impeaching the president in the Senate.
“I think there will be enough support on it to show there’s no chance they can impeach the president,” Paul told reporters Tuesday. “If 34 people support my resolution that this is an unconstitutional proceeding it shows they don’t have the votes and we’re basically wasting our time.”
The Senate would need a two-thirds majority, or at least 67 votes, to convict the president.
Republicans have called to “move on” from impeachment now that Trump is out of office, adding that to continue pursuing the matter would further divide the country.
Paul, in floor remarks ahead of the vote, claimed that the absence of the chief justice, who presides over impeachment trials in the Senate, made the trial unconstitutional. The Kentucky Republican said that without the chief justice present, the trial was “not a trial of the president but of a private citizen.”
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