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Opposition to convicting Trump in impeachment trial increasing among Senate Republicans

A Senate trial in the Democratic-led Senate is scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 8

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President Trump
President Trump departs White House on Marine One at end of presidency. Jan. 20, 2021.
(MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Updated: January 25, 2021 - 6:25pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Opposition to convicting former President Trump in an impeachment trial is growing among Senate Republicans as the trial date approaches.

The Democratic-led House is expected to formally deliver the article of impeachment for "incitement of insurrection" to the U.S. Senate on Monday evening.

Democrats now control the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said a trial is set to begin the week of Feb. 8 and all senators will have a chance to take a position on the article. Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Senate president pro tempore, announced on Monday that he will be presiding over the trial.

"I think a lot of Americans are going to think it's strange that the Senate is spending its time trying to convict and remove from office a man who left office a week ago," said Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton on Sunday.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio shared a similar opinion, arguing that holding a trial in the Senate is not worth the Senate's time. Rubio said he would vote to end the trial "the first chance" he gets.

"I think the trial is stupid. I think it’s counterproductive," Rubio told Fox News. "We already have a flaming fire in this country and it's like taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top of the fire."

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso and Texas Sen. John Cornyn have also criticized the decision to move forward with a trial.

As the Senate works to confirm President Joe Biden's cabinet nominees, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, has said the impeachment of a former president is "unconstitutional" and it would "set a very dangerous precedent."

"Democrats can't have it both ways: an unconstitutional impeachment trial & Senate confirmation of the Biden admin's national security team," Johnson tweeted last week. "They need to choose between being vindictive or staffing the administration to keep the nation safe. What will it be: revenge or security?"

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has called on Schumer to dismiss the article of impeachment. He referred to a trial of Trump after leaving office as "an unconstitutional act of political vengeance."

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott has also criticized the House's vote in favor of impeachment.

"President Trump has eight days left in his term and has promised a smooth and peaceful transition of power. The Democrat-led impeachment talks happening in the House right now fly in direct opposition to what President-elect Joe Biden has been calling for all year. An impeachment vote will only lead to more hate and a deeply fractured nation. I oppose impeaching President Trump," he said in a statement on Jan. 12.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski recently said that Trump's remarks prior to the Capitol riot "incited violence" but vowed to "listen carefully and consider the arguments of both sides" in a trial and then announce how she intends to vote.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the lone Republican who voted to remove Trump from office during the impeachment trial last year, said on Sunday that the second impeachment trial against Trump as a former president is "appropriate."

In a Senate floor speech, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that Trump "provoked" the attendees of the pro-Trump rally ahead of the riot at the Capitol but he hasn't announced how he intends to vote in the impeachment trial.

 

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