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News24.com | Senate Republicans unite behind failed effort to challenge Trump impeachment trial

  • January 27, 2021
  • 45 Senate
    Republicans backed an effort to halt the impeachment trial against Donald Trump,
    but failed after the motion was blocked by Democrats.
  • Only five
    Republican lawmakers joined Democrats to reject the move, far short of the 17 required
    to vote to convict Trump on an impeachment charge.
  • 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.


WASHINGTON –
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.

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 US 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 6 January 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.

He said:

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 US Chief Justice John Roberts.

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

Constitutional
debate

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.

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

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.

Inciting
insurrection

The House
approved a single article of impeachment – the equivalent of an indictment in a
criminal trial – on 13 January, 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 criticised Trump’s false claims of voting fraud and his failed
efforts to overturn Biden’s 3 November 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.


Article source: https://www.news24.com/news24/World/News/senate-republicans-unite-behind-failed-effort-to-challenge-trump-impeachment-trial-20210127

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