Six Republicans sided with Democrats on Tuesday and rejected arguments by former President Donald Trump’s lawyers that his Senate impeachment trial was unconstitutional.
The 56-44 vote will allow the trial to proceed, according to Fox News. However, conviction on the article of impeachment that claims Trump incited insurrection would require 67 votes, which means 17 Republicans must join the 50 Democrats in the Senate.
Tuesday’s vote included five Republicans who have spoken out strongly against Trump’s conduct on the day of the Capitol incursion.
Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania has said he believes Trump’s conduct on the day of the Capitol incursion included “impeachable offenses,” Reuters reported. Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Susan Collins of Maine have castigated Trump’s conduct, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska vented her wish that Trump would resign before his term was up.
They were joined on Monday by Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
“We heard arguments from both sides on the constitutionality of having a Senate trial of a president who has since left office,” Cassidy said. “A sufficient amount of evidence of constitutionality exists for the Senate to proceed with the trial. This vote is not a prejudgment on the final vote to convict.
“If anyone disagrees with my vote and would like an explanation, I ask them to listen to the arguments presented by the House managers and former President Trump’s lawyers,” he added. “The House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments. The president’s team did not.”
Cassidy has said there is a difference between his actions in the trial and last month’s vote when he joined 44 other Republicans in support of a motion by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky that the trial was unconstitutional.
“I think it’s important to understand the nature of that vote. It was called two hours before it. There was no debate and no explanation from either side,” Cassidy said Sunday on the NBC show “Meet the Press.”
“It was a vote in a moment of time. And so, based upon what senators knew at that point and felt at that point, they then voted. But we will now have, hopefully, presentations from both sides, and we will consider the evidence as impartial jurors,” he said.
Cassidy also said he will decide upon what is presented to him.
“Let’s face it. The House did an incredibly poor job of building a case before their impeachment vote. The president wasn’t there. He wasn’t allowed counsel. They didn’t amass evidence. In five hours, they kind of judged and boom, he’s impeached,” Cassidy said.
“Now, I’m told that under the Watergate, under the Clinton impeachments, there were truckloads of information. Here, there was a video. There was no process. I mean, it’s almost like, you know, if it happened in the Soviet Union, you would’ve called it a show trial,” he added.
On Tuesday, Trump attorney David Schoen argued that the trial was a partisan political exercise.
“The House surely seeks to strip Donald Trump of his most highly cherished constitutional rights, including the right to be eligible to hold public office again should you so choose,” Schoen said, according to the New York Post.
“A great many Americans see this process for exactly what it is: A chance by a group of partisan politicians seeking to eliminate Donald Trump from the American political scene and seeking to disenfranchise 74 million-plus American voters and those who dare to share their political beliefs and vision of America. They hated the results of the 2016 election and want to use this impeachment process to further their political agenda,” he said.
“These elitists have mock them for four years. They’ve called their fellow Americans who believe in their country and their Constitution ‘deplorables’ and the latest talk is that they need to ‘deprogram’ those who supported Donald Trump and the Grand Old Party,” Schoen added.
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