To begin the controversial impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate, a 56–44 vote decided the impeachment of a former President is, indeed, constitutional following a two hour debate, allowing the trial to continue into Wednesday. Trump’s lawyers hammered the unconstitutionality of impeaching a former President in defense of Trump while House managers insisted the precedent has already been set.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and Pat Toomey (Pa.) voted in favor of the constitutionality of the impeachment trial. Some Republicans came away largely impressed by the Democratic legal team, with Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss) commented, “I thought the attorneys were very well prepared and well spoken. I think, actually the Democrats sent a better team this year than last.”
David Schoen, one of Trump’s lawyers, warned that this impeachment trial could allow the justification of future trials to impeach former Presidents, a brazenly unconstitutional motion “If you vote to proceed with this impeachment trial, future senators will recognize that you bought into a radical constitution theory,” Schoen stated.
Schoen accused Democrats of being “willing to sacrifice our national character to advance their hatred and their fear that one day, they might not be the party in power.”
Trump lawyer Bruce Castor took a different route arguing that, if Trump committed a crime, law enforcement would be able to arrest him through the legal system, rather than needing to go through the Senate.
“If Trump committed a criminal offense … after he’s out of office, you go and arrest him,” Castor said.
House managers relied on footage from the January 6th storming of the Capital building and pointed to 1876 impeachment trial of War Secretary William W. Belknap, who was impeached by the House after resigning, though was later acquitted in the Senate.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) argued that “conduct that would be a high crime and misdemeanor in your first year as president, in your second year as president, in your third year as president, and for the vast majority of your fourth year as president, you can suddenly do in your last few weeks in office without facing any constitutional accountability at all. This would create a brand new January exception to the Constitution of the United States of America.”
With 67 votes required to convict the President, at least 17 Republicans would have to split party lines and, after only 6 votes in favor of the constitutionality, the impeachment seems dead in the water.
Republican Senators that voted in favor of the impeachment trial came under immediate fire from conservatives, a group where Trump is incredibly popular. Even the son of the former President, Donald Trump Jr. challenged Rep. Liz Cheney with plans to campaign against her in Wyoming.
“It’s time to have a change at the top. It’s time to have people that are going to start representing the people, not their own agendas, not their own nonsense, but their constituency,” Trump Jr. said.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) will join suit with Trump Jr. to campaign against Cheney.
“The truth is that the establishment in both political parties have teamed up to screw our fellow Americans for generations,” Gaetz said at an event in Cheyenne last month. “Now in Washington, D.C., the private insider club of Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, and Liz Cheney, they want to return our government to its default setting—enriching them, making them more powerful at our expense. But we can stop ’em and it starts right here in Wyoming.”