Former President Donald Trump appears headed for acquittal in his second impeachment trial after just five Republicans voted with Democrats to block an effort to declare it unconstitutional.
GOP Sen. Rand Paul’s bid to question the constitutionality of trying a former president was blocked on a 55-45 vote. Only five Republicans supported going forward with the trial. That serves as rough proxy for the eventual verdict and is well short of the two-thirds majority necessary for conviction.
“Forty-five votes means the impeachment trial is dead on arrival,” Paul said to reporters immediately after the Senate acted.
Republican Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Susan Collins of Maine all voted with Democrats to block Paul’s effort, though that doesn’t necessarily indicate any or all would vote to convict.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Paul’s motion “ill-founded” and “premature.” He said history and precedent are clear that the Senate can try a president or other official who has left office.
The question has never been tested in the courts, but many legal scholars and several lower-level impeachments in the past suggest the Senate retains power to put Trump on trial even after his term ends.
Still, it offers a political argument that could give Republicans a chance to avoid having to cast judgment on Trump’s Jan. 6 actions, when he encouraged a crowd that went on… (Read more)