Washington: Six Republican Senators joined their Democratic colleagues in the United States Senate on Tuesday to vote that the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is constitutional.
The Senate confirmed the constitutionality of Trump’s impeachment trial by 56-44 votes following presentation from both sides — House impeachment managers and lawyers representing the former president — paving the way for the historic impeachment trial of the 45th President of the United States who left office January 20.
From Wednesday onwards, each of the two sides — the House impeachment managers and Trump lawyers — would have up to 16 hours to present their case before the 100-member Senate for them to vote on the impeachment of Trump days later.
Both the Republicans and the Democrats have 50 members each. To impeach Trump, the Senate needs to vote the House impeachment motion by 67 votes.
Tuesday, six Republicans supported the Democrats in their effort to impeach Trump. Now they need the support of at least another 11 Republicans to do that. Given the current situation that seems to be unlikely, political analysts said, noting that the entire process is most likely to end up in the acquittal of the former president.
Trump is the first president in the American history to be impeached twice. He is also the first president ever to have faced impeachment trial after he left the office of presidency.
Republican Senators who voted along with the Democrats were Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Bill Cassidy and Pat Toomey. Trump’s impeachment trial is slated to begin Wednesday noon.
Earlier, the House impeachment managers started the debate on the constitutionality of the impeachment by showing footage of the Capitol Hill riots on January 6, which is the main basis of the charge sheet against him. The Democrats plan to use a lot of video footage from the attack on the US Capitol by supporters of Trump to make their case.
“If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing. And if the President’s arguments for a January exception are upheld, then even if everyone agrees that if he’s culpable for these events, even if the evidence proves, as we think this definitely does, that the president incited a violent insurrection on the day Congress met to finalise the presidential election, he would have you believe there is absolutely nothing the Senate can do about it — no trial, no facts. He wants you to decide that the Senate is powerless at that point. That can’t be right,” Lead House Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin argued.
Trump’s attorneys David Schoen and Bruce Castor argued that impeaching a former president when he is a private citizen is unconstitutional, and that in doing so they warned the Democrats were setting a wrong precedent. Media reports said that Trump was dissatisfied with the defense by his lawyers.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden is going to wait for the Senate to determine the outcome of this impeachment trial. “His view is that his role should be currently focused on addressing the needs of the American people, putting people back to work, addressing the pandemic,” she said in response to a question.
Biden himself refrained from speaking on the impeachment.
“…I tell people that I have a job. My job is to keep people. We have already lost over 4,50,000 people (due to the coronavirus pandemic) and we could lose a whole lot more if we don’t act and act decisively. A lot of people, as I have said before, children are going to bed hungry. A lot of families are food insecure. They are in trouble. That’s my job. The Senate has their job and they are about to begin it and I am sure they are going to conduct themselves well. That’s all I am going to say about impeachment,” Biden told reporters at the White House.