Procedural vote 55-45 to overturn an objection by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul records the Senate as declaring procedure constitutional and means the Trump impeachment trial, the first of a former president, will begin as scheduled the week of February 8. The House impeached him two weeks ago for inciting deadly riots in the Capitol on January 6 when he told his supporters to “fight like hell” to reverse his electoral defeat. But at the same time, the final tally shows that there are unlikely to be enough votes for conviction, requiring the support of all Democrats and 17 Republicans, or two-thirds of the Senate. While most Republicans criticized Trump shortly after the attack, many have since rushed to defend him, showing the former president’s enduring influence over the Republican Party.
“If more than 34 Republicans vote against the constitutionality of the procedure, everything is dead on arrival,” Paul said shortly before the vote. “Paul said the Democrats” should probably rest their case and come up with no case at all. ”
Senators were sworn in on Tuesday to ensure “impartial justice” as jurors in the trial, a procedure that will test Republican loyalty to the former president for the first time after the murderous siege on the United States Capitol.
Democrats cite past cases
Many Republican senators, including Paul, have questioned the legitimacy of the trial and questioned whether Trump’s repeated demands to quash the election of Joe Biden really constituted “incitement to insurgency.”
So what seemed to some Democrats like an open and closed deal being played out for the world on live television is bumping up against a Republican Party that feels very different. Not only are there legal issues, but senators are reluctant to run into the former president and his legions of supporters.
As Republicans said the trial was not legitimate, Democrats rejected this argument, pointing to the 1876 impeachment of a war secretary who had previously resigned and the opinions of many jurists.
Democrats also say there is a need to count the first invasion of Capitol Hill since the War of 1812, carried out by rioters pushed by a president as the votes of constituencies were counted.
A few Republican senators agree with the Democrats, but not close to the number that will be needed to condemn Trump.
On Monday, the nine House Democrats pursuing the case against Trump brought the sole indictment charge of “inciting insurgency” across Capitol Hill in a solemn and ceremonial march along the same rooms that rioters ransacked three weeks ago.
Senior House Attorney Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland appeared before the Senate to describe the violent events of January 6 – five people died – and read the House resolution accusing “of crimes and misdemeanors serious ”.
Republicans have come to Trump’s legal defense.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas asked if Congress starts holding impeachment trials for former public servants, what’s next: “Can we go back and try President Obama?” ”
Furthermore, he suggested, Trump has already been held responsible. “One way in our system to punish you is to lose an election. ”
For Democrats, the tone, tenor, and length of the trial so early in Biden’s presidency pose their own challenge, forcing them to strike a balance between their vow to hold Trump accountable and their eagerness to meet the priorities of the new administration. after their control of the House, the Senate and the White House.
Chief Justice John Roberts is not presiding over the trial, as he did during Trump’s first indictment, which could affect the severity of the proceedings. The change would be in accordance with protocol as Trump is no longer in power.
Instead, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, who occupies the largely ceremonial role of Senate Speaker pro tempore, was sworn in on Tuesday.
Leaders on both sides have agreed to a short delay in the proceedings, which serves their political and practical interests, even though National Guard troops remain on Capitol Hill due to security threats to lawmakers ahead of trial.
The start date gives Trump’s new legal team time to prepare their case, while stepping back more than a month from the passions of the bloody riot. For the Democrat-led Senate, the intervening weeks provide prime time to confirm some of the top candidates Biden nominated to Cabinet.