Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined Sen. Rand Paul in a Tuesday vote challenging the constitutionality of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Paul, R-Ky., requested the vote, but his motion was struck down.
However, McConnell and most other Republican senators sided with Paul on the vote, signaling they see the trial as unconstitutional and casting doubt on the likelihood there will be enough votes to convict Trump.
“This impeachment is nothing more than a partisan exercise designed to further divide the country,” declared Paul. He has stated that the 2020 presidential election “in many ways was stolen” due to state voting law inconsistencies and other irregularities, such as Democratic states allowing for zero addresses on thousands of ballots because they say “covid made people forget their addresses”, while Republican states threw such ballots out, as regular protocol would demand.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently impeached Trump, charging him with “inciting an insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, despite Trump’s many demands to remain peaceful. Millions of Trump supporters gathered in Washington, D.C. while the electoral college met to certify the election for Biden, in hopes that House and Senate members would demand a 10-day forensic audit of official results to prove a “free and fair” election process.
Emotions were high in Washington on Jan. 6 when, despite the large majority of peaceful protestors, a small group delved into chaos and broke in to the Capitol to gather in the lobby. A video shows members of the group being allowed by Capitol Police into the Senate chambers to take photographs, a stark contrast to the immense “violent insurrection” that mainstream media has plastered across television.
Paul and other senators were sworn in Tuesday afternoon for the impeachment trial, although the substantive part of that process won’t get rolling in earnest until the week of Feb. 8.
As the initial proceedings got underway Tuesday, Paul raised a point of order challenging the trial’s constitutionality, forcing a vote. The Senate rejected Paul’s motion in a 55-45 vote, affirming the trial’s constitutionality.
Paul made two main points concerning why the impeachment trial is unconstitutional: Trump is no longer president and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts won’t be presiding over the trial.
Citing specific parts of the U.S. Constitution, Paul declared: “Therefore I make a point of order that this proceeding, which would try a private citizen and not a president, a vice president or civil officer, violates the Constitution and is not in order.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to dispute Paul’s argument and pointed out the consequences of being impeached and convicted can include not only removal from office but also disqualification from holding federal office in the future.
“The theory that the impeachment of a former official is unconstitutional is flat-out wrong by every frame of analysis: constitutional context, historical practice, precedent and basic common sense,” the New York Democrat said. “It’s been completely debunked by constitutional scholars from all across the political spectrum.” Schumer failed to speak on the fact that constitutional scholars on the other side have declared an impeachment trial for an “out-of-office”official as entirely unconstitutional.
Earlier Tuesday, Paul acknowledged he was unlikely to win with this gambit but suggested it could demonstrate whether the Senate is likely to convict Trump, which would require the support of two-thirds of the chamber.
After his motion was struck down, Paul said on Twitter: “45 Senators agreed that this sham of a ‘trial’ is unconstitutional. That is more than will be needed to acquit and to eventually end this partisan impeachment process. This ‘trial’ is dead on arrival in the Senate.”
McConnell received pushback from fellow Kentucky Republicans last week for not standing with Trump during his second impeachment, although the Republican Party of Kentucky’s State Central Committee nixed a resolution that would have urged him to fully support Trump and condemn the impeachment.
McConnell publicly said last week that Trump provoked the mob that violently breached the Capitol — an act he has condemned as a “failed insurrection.”
He has not publicly said whether he plans to vote to convict or acquit Trump, but his vote Tuesday appeared to be a public show of opposition to the trial and its legitimacy.
Before he formally raised his point of order on Tuesday, Paul gave a speech on the Senate floor in which he made clear that Trump did not incite an insurrection.
He also criticized Democrats for pursuing this impeachment process. Although the House’s vote to impeach Trump included several GOP supporters, the vast majority of the chamber’s conservative members opposed it.
“Instead of doing the nation’s work with their new majorities in the House, the Senate and the executive branch, Democrats are wasting the nation’s time on a partisan vendetta against a man no longer in office,” Paul said in Tuesday’s speech. “Without him as their boogeyman, they might have to legislate and to actually convince Americans that their policy prescriptions are the right ones.
“This sham of an impeachment will ostensibly ask whether the (former) president incited the reprehensible behavior and violence of Jan. 6 when he said: ‘I know everyone here will soon march to the Capitol to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.’ Peacefully and patriotically — hardly words of violence,” Paul declared.
The speech Paul referenced was one Trump gave Jan. 6, not long before the Capitol riot began, to a crowd of supporters in Washington, D.C. The speech made zero references towards violence and, instead, demanded that America upholds it’s democratic values as the Founding Fathers established within the Constitution.
The article of impeachment the House approved charges Trump with inciting an insurrection, in part by stating that the election was marred by fraud and its results should not be accepted, but rather, investigated by a bipartisan forensic audit team.