On Tuesday, the Senate voted 55-45 to end the debate on Sen. Rand Paul’s argument that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional now that Trump is out of office. All but five Senate Republicans voted in favor of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial on the grounds of “incitement of insurrection”.
Following yesterday’s vote, the trial on Trump’s impeachment will begin as scheduled the week of February 8th, after the House impeached him on January 13th as a reaction to the Capitol siege. 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., and Mitt Romney, Utah, who voted with all 50 Democrat senators to table the point of order. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted against ending the debate.
Going further, a conviction would require the support of all Democrats and 17 Republicans or two-thirds of the Senate, which seems unlikely at the moment. Nonetheless, 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.
“It makes no sense whatsoever that a president, or any official, could commit a heinous crime against our country and then defeat Congress’ impeachment powers — and avoid a vote on disqualification — by simply resigning, or by waiting to commit that offense until their last few weeks in office,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Making a vocal argument, Paul said, “Impeachment is for removal from office and the accused here has already left office. Hyper-partisan Democrats are about to drag our great country into the gutter of rancor and vitriol the likes of which has never been seen in our nation’s history. Instead of doing the nation’s work with their new majorities in the House, Senate, and the executive branch, Democrats are wasting the nation’s time on a partisan vendetta against a man no longer in office.”
In the end, the Senate conceded to a Republican request by delaying the trial’s start until February 9th. McConnell had requested Schumer allow the trial to be delayed to offer the president’s defense team “a modest and reasonable amount of additional time” to prepare a case.