Senators were sworn in for the second impeachment trial of former President Trump yesterday, and there was an immediate challenge to the constitutionality of the trial from a Republican ally of the former President.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky forced a procedural vote on the constitutionality of the trial Tuesday afternoon, in what amounted to the first test of how Senate Republicans view the upcoming trial, the substance of which will begin with arguments next month. The Senate voted to table, or kill, Paul’s point of order, 55 to 45, with just five Republicans joining Democrats to vote against dismissing the trial.
The five Republicans who voted against Paul were Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Paul said Tuesday that he forced the procedural vote to show there already aren’t sufficient votes to convict Trump, which would require two-thirds of senators. Many Republicans have taken the position in recent days that the trial is not constitutional because Trump is no longer President, in what’s become the most common argument to acquit Trump.
The Senate passed its pre-trial organizing resolution, laying out the rules heading into impeachment the trial, 83-17, before the Senate adjourned as a “court of impeachment” until Feb. 9, when the trial arguments are scheduled to begin.
What comes next: The two-week break until the trial begins will give both sides more time to prepare for the trial. Trump is still hiring lawyers for his impeachment legal defense team, which is being led by South Carolina lawyer Butch Bowers.
As the House impeachment managers put together their plans for the trial, they are considering using a variety of video evidence to show how the rioters were responding to Trump’s own words when they breached the Capitol, according to sources familiar with the deliberations.
The impeachment managers are still wading through the huge amount of video that exists from Jan. 6 to determine what they should use at the trial, the sources said, including video posted to the conservative social media site Parler.
It remains to be seen how long the trial will last, whether the House impeachment managers will seek witnesses and what the exact contours of the President’s legal defense will be.