President Joe Biden is fine with his party’s impeachment effort against former President Donald Trump, but he has no false illusions that the Senate will convict Trump.
Biden told CNN in a brief interview Monday that the Senate trial, which is scheduled to start Feb. 9, “has to happen.”
Although he acknowledged that however long the Senate spends on the trail will get in the way of confirming his appointments and his legislative agenda, the president said there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen.”
As far as getting a conviction on the article of impeachment passed by the House, Biden said it might have taken place in a different climate where Trump had months to go in his term.
However, he does not expect that with the former president now out of office, Trump will be convicted. Conviction would require that 17 Republican senators side with Democrats against Trump.
“The Senate has changed since I was there, but it hasn’t changed that much,” said Biden, who was a senator from 1973 to 2009.
Current estimates are that somewhere between five and 10 Republicans might side with Democrats.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has criticized Trump but has not said how he would vote at the trial.
“There are only a handful of Republicans and shrinking who will vote against him,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said, according to The Washington Post.
Graham, who has been advising Trump on the impeachment proceedings, said the former president is “thinking about the trial and decompressing. I think he appreciates having some of the extra time he didn’t have in the past.”
The New York Times reported that based on its survey of GOP senators, 27 were opposed to the trial, 16 were undecided and seven had no reply.
“Why are we doing this?” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said. “I can’t think of something more divisive and unhealing than doing an impeachment trial when the president is already gone.
“It’s just vindictive. It’s ridiculous.”
Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said, “We will listen to it, but I still have concerns about the constitutionality of this, and the precedent it sets in trying to convict a private citizen.”
The article of impeachment accuses Trump of inciting an insurrection on the day of the Capitol Hill incursion.
Ernst said that’s a stretch.
Trump “exhibited poor leadership, I think we all agree with that,” she said.
“But it was these people that came into the Capitol, they did it knowingly. So they bear the responsibility,” the senator said.
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the president pro tempore of the Senate, will preside over the trial instead of Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over Trump’s first impeachment trial.
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