It looks like the former US president won’t be convicted by the US Senate after the Senate tabled an effort by Sen. Rand Paul Tuesday to force a vote on the constitutionality of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
In order to convict Trump at his trial, at least 17 Republicans will need to vote with all Democrats when the trial begins next month.
Paul’s motion saying convicting a president who isn’t in office is unconstitutional was killed on a 55-45 vote, with five Republicans joining all Democrats, meaning 45 Republicans voted for Paul’s effort.
Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania crossed party lines to vote with Democrats.
Significantly, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell sided with Paul in the vote — an indicator that he agrees that it is unconstitutional to impeach a former President.
Paul argued after the vote that the fact that 45 Republicans sided with him “shows that impeachment is dead on arrival.”
“If you voted that it was unconstitutional then how in the world would you ever hope to convict somebody for this?” Paul asked, adding ,”45 of us, almost the entire caucus, 95% of the caucus, voted that the whole proceeding was unconstitutional. This is a big victory for us. Democrats can beat this partisan horse as long as they want — this vote indicates it’s over, the trial is all over.”
Paul said in a floor speech ahead of the vote, “I want this body on record, every last person here: Is this how you think politics should be?”
“Democrats insist on applying a test of incitement to a Republican that they refuse to apply to themselves,” he said. “I want Democrats to raise their hands if they have ever given a speech that says ‘take back,’ ‘fight for your country,’ who hasn’t used the words fight figuratively?”
He went on to say, “Are we going to put every politician in jail — are we going to impeach every politician who has used the words fight figuratively in a speech? Shame!”
Even the Republicans who voted against Paul’s measure like Susan Collins said Tuesday’s vote was a sign of the eventual outcome of the trial.
“Do the math,” she said. “I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely that the President will be convicted.”
Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who recently announced he won’t seek reelection in 2022, said he voted with Paul because he thinks there should be a debate on the constitutionality of an impeachment trial for a former president.
“I want to hear it debated,” Portman told reporters.
“The vote to table is inconsistent with that, you know, but I’ve not made my mind up. I’m a juror. And I mean I’ve the same position Mitch McConnell has. He didn’t do that to be tabled either, even though he wants to have, you know, a fulsome discussion.”
The Democratic-led House has already voted to impeach Trump, charging him with incitement of insurrection for the attack on the Capitol that left multiple people dead.
But two-thirds of the Senate would have to vote to convict Trump after a trial, meaning 17 Republicans will have to join 50 Democrats for him to be convicted, an unlikely scenario as things stand.