Five Republican senators vote against motion that impeachment against Trump is unconstitutional

Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY
·3 min read

WASHINGTON – Five Republican Senators sided with their Democratic colleagues on Tuesday to reject the idea that former President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial was unconstitutional, effectively ending an effort to have the trial thrown out.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., made a motion that the impeachment trial against Trump is unconstitutional in the Senate, arguing that Trump couldn’t be tried as a private citizen.

The motion was rejected by a 55-45 vote, which suggests a lack of support for convicting Trump on the charge of inciting insurrection. Essentially, 45 Senators voted that the trial was unconstitutional, signaling they're likely to vote against conviction.

Trump was impeached by the House on Jan. 13 on one article of incitement in connection with the deadly riot that saw his supporters storm the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. Ten House Republicans voted yes.

The trial of Trump’s second impeachment, a first for a president, will begin as scheduled the week of Feb. 8.

Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Senate Democrats in killing Paul's motion.

All have publicly remained uncommitted on whether they would vote to convict but all have been critical of Trump in the wake of the riot.

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Romney voted to convict Trump last year during his first impeachment, becoming the first senator ever to vote against his own party's president in an impeachment trial.

He said another impeachment trial is necessary to hold Trump accountable for any role he might have played in inciting the insurrection, saying “If we’re going to have unity in our country, it’s important to recognize the need for accountability, for truth and justice.”

Collins and Murkowski were two Senate Republicans intensely watched during Trump's first impeachment, with Collins voting yes to subpoena witnesses in the first trial.

Murkowski signaled she had hit her breaking point with Trump following the insurrection, calling on him to resign two days afterward during an interview with the Anchorage Daily News.

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Sasse denounced efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the presidential election results as a "dangerous ploy."

Four days after the deadly breach on the Capitol, Toomey said Trump should resign from office and could face "criminal liability," while also saying Trump had "committed impeachable offenses."

On Tuesday, senators were sworn in as members of the "Court of Impeachment."

A summons will now be issued to Trump, and he has a week – until Feb. 2 – to answer the article. The House faces the same deadline to submit its pretrial brief.

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Contributing: Bart Jansen, Christal Hayes, Nicholas Wu

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump impeachment: Five GOP Senators vote trial is constitutional