A point of order brought by Sen. Rand Paul makes the chances of an impeachment trial succeeding highly improbable.
By David Isaac, World Israel News
The chances that former President Donald Trump will be impeached by the Senate have just dropped to about nil after 45 Republicans voted on Tuesday with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) on his point of order that the trial of a former officeholder who is now a private citizen is unconstitutional.
It is fair to assume that Republicans who voted that the trial is unconstitutional will not then vote to violate the Constitution by impeaching Trump. As the Democrats need 17 Republicans to join them in order to impeach, the trial appears, in the words of Paul, “dead on arrival.”
Only five Republicans voted against Paul’s point of order, including Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Paul argued on the Senate floor that “Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office.”
He also said that a trial flies in the face of Democratic calls for unity. “Democrats claim to want to unify the country but impeaching a former president, a private citizen, is the antithesis of unity,” he said.
Democrats say that Trump needs to answer for what they claim is his incitement of a crowd of supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6 in order to prevent a joint session of Congress from certifying the electoral victory of Joe Biden.
Democrats argued that the Republicans are trying to wiggle their way out of addressing Trump’s guilt by focusing on constitutional issues.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said Tuesday that the Republicans’ argument was “flat-out wrong by every frame of analysis — constitutional context, historical practice, precedent and basic common sense.”
“The theory that the Senate can’t try former officials would amount to a constitutional get-out-of-jail-free card for any president who commits an impeachable offense,” Schumer said.
The trial is scheduled for Feb. 9.
Trump is still a powerful figure in the Republican party and remains popular with the party’s base. He recently signaled that he won’t start a third party.
It first appeared that Trump’s conviction was possible as 10 Republicans joined with Democrats to convict in the House, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had signaled shortly after the Capitol Hill riots that he would consider impeachment.
However, McConnell sided with Paul’s point of order on Tuesday showing that passions have cooled.
“The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally.
“Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.”
AP contributed to this report.