Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia is reportedly urging his colleagues in the Senate to refrain from convicting former President Donald Trump on an article of impeachment and instead move on to censure the former president instead.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Tuesday all but assured the Senate would be denied the votes needed to secure a Trump conviction on a charge of incitement of insurrection after Democrats blamed Trump for the Jan. 6 Capitol incursion.
The senator railed against a Senate trial as unconstitutional and presumably helped secure enough support to deny the Democrats the support of the 17 GOP senators who would be needed to convict the former president. Paul secured 44 other GOP senators in his camp on Tuesday who agreed that impeaching Trump after he left office is unconstitutional.
The senator took a victory lap on Twitter, writing, “The Senate just voted on my constitutional point of order. 45 Senators agreed that this sham of a ‘trial’ is unconstitutional. That is more than will be needed to acquit and to eventually end this partisan impeachment process. This ‘trial’ is dead on arrival in the Senate.”
The Senate just voted on my constitutional point of order.
45 Senators agreed that this sham of a “trial” is unconstitutional.
That is more than will be needed to acquit and to eventually end this partisan impeachment process.
This “trial” is dead on arrival in the Senate.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 26, 2021
Kaine, apparently recognizing the reality that a conviction is unlikely, is instead seeking to hit Trump where he can and move on to more pressing matters. Axios reported Kaine and GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine are quietly offering a bipartisan censure as opposed to a dead-on-arrival conviction.
Citing sources said to be close to the two senators, Axios noted that Kaine and Collins have privately discussed a censure as an alternative to a Senate trial for a number of weeks.
“I think it’s pretty obvious from the vote today that it is extraordinarily unlikely that the president will be convicted. Just do the math,” Collins said Tuesday.
Collins is among only a handful of Republicans who have signaled they would vote to convict Trump. Other GOP senators include Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
Kaine, meanwhile, wants to focus on using the Senate’s time to advance the agenda of President Joe Biden. The senator reportedly views what is sure to be an unsuccessful trial for Democrats as a waste of time which could be better spent on initiatives such as another round of coronavirus relief or confirming Biden’s Cabinet picks.
“I have been talking with a number of my colleagues, a handful, for a couple of weeks about the likelihood that we would fall short on impeachment. And by doing that, not only will we fall short, but we would use time for something that we could be using for COVID relief, which I think is just so dire right now,” Kaine said Wednesday, according to Fox News.
“To do a trial knowing you’ll get 55 votes at the max seems to me to be not the right prioritization of our time,” the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee added. “Obviously we do a trial, maybe we can do it fast but my top priority is COVID relief and getting the Biden Cabinet approved.”
Censure would of course be a formal statement of disapproval from the Senate. Such a move would seemingly be inconsequential for Trump, who is no longer in office and is currently spending the first days of his post-presidency in South Florida.
Censure would also need to hit a vote threshold of 60 votes. It’s unclear if Democrats would be able to find enough GOP votes for such a resolution.
Despite Kaine’s maneuvering to shelve the impeachment trial, it appears that it will move forward, even though Senate Democrats likely won’t have near the votes needed for a conviction.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has made it clear he wants the former president tried.
“I would simply say to all of my colleagues: Make no mistake, there will be a trial,” Schumer said Wednesday on the Senate floor.
“The evidence against the former president will be presented in living color for the nation and every one of us to see once again and no one will be able to avert their gaze from what Mr. Trump said and did and the consequences of his actions,” Schumer added.
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