Last Tuesday, the Senate voted that former US President Donald Trump’s impeachment is constitutional, paving the way for the trial to continue. Prior to the vote, arguments over the constitutionality of the trial permeated the Senate floor. the afternoon and afternoon of arguments on whether it was constitutional to try a former president. The final vote tally went 56-44 in favor of those who said the trial is constitutional. This meant apart from all 50 Democrats, six Republicans joined the yes votes.
Tuesday’s results only meant that the trial will proceed, and is far from a guarantee that Trump will get a conviction. In order for that to happen, at least 67 Senators need to vote guilty. Instead of six, Democrats will need 17 Republicans to vote guilty. At this point, it remains nearly impossible to get this number of GOP Senators to turn their backs on the former President.
The afternoon of arguments featured Democrat prosecutors saying that the impeachment is on a solid legal footing. They insisted that the Constitution did not include an exception during January that allows presidents to commit improper actions in the final weeks in office.
Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers countered that the Senate can’t try him because he already left office and is now a private citizen. In addition, they accused the Democrats of political motivation when they filed the impeachment case.
‘Cold Hard Facts’
Presiding officer Senator Patrick Leahy (VT.), started the proceedings at 1 pm by calling for a vote on the trial rules. The Senate then voted 89-11 affirming the rules of the trial and gave each side two hours to debate. Then, lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (MD) began their presentation. “Our case is based on cold hard facts,” Raskin opened. Next, he played a 13-minute video of Trump encouraging supporters to march to the Capitol last January 6. Afterward, he showed a montage of the resulting violence as the mob stormed the Capitol. “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor. If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing,” he said.
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Almost all 100 senators, mostly masked due to COVID-19 restrictions, sat silently as they saw the footage. The images displayed rioters in battle gear ramming doors and attacking police. These same lawmakers were in the Capitol that day voting to certify President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. “This cannot be the future of America. We cannot have presidents do this because they refuse to accept the will of the people,” Raskin implored.
A total of six Republican Senators sided with the Democrats in upholding that the impeachment is constitutional. These are Susan Collins (ME), Bill Cassidy (LA), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE), and Pat Toomey (PA). Previously five of the six Republicans also voted against Senator Rand Paul’s point of order on the constitutionality of the trial.
The newest GOP member to cross party lines, Cassidy voted to proceed with the trial. He changed his position two weeks after supporting Paul’s question if the impeachment is constitutional. “We heard arguments from both sides on the constitutionality of having a Senate trial of a president who has since left office. 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,” Cassidy explained. “The House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments. The president’s team did not,” he added.
Unfairly Targeting Trump
Trump’s lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr., and David Schoen did acknowledge that what happened on January 6 was wrong. However, they said that the trial is unconstitutionally targeting their client. “Presidents are impeachable, presidents are removable. Former presidents are not because they cannot be removed,” Schoen said. In addition, he accused Democrats of trying to disenfranchise voters who voted for Trump. At the same time, they are also trying to eliminate a political candidate that they disagree with.
Reportedly, Trump watched closely as the trial unfolded, choosing to remain closely in contact with the legal team. A source reported that at points during the defense’s presentation, Trump called allies screaming and cursing.
Watch the new video of The Hill reporting that Senators voted votes 56-44 that impeachment trial is constitutional:
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