The impeachment trial in the Senate of former US President Donald Trump, accused of “incitement to insurgency” for his role in the riot of January 6 on Capitol Hill, continues to drive a wedge within the Republican Party.
Ten Republicans in the US House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump on January 13, a week after pro-Trump rioters raped the U.S. Capitol as Congress convened to certify President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Republicans who voted for impeachment included Rep. Liz Cheney, the Republican conference chairperson, who has since faced a push from within the party to remove her from her leadership position.
Meanwhile, several Senate Republicans have said they object to moving forward with the chamber trial, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 9, while at least one, Senator Mitt Romney, said that it was “appropriate” to move forward with the impeachment trial.
The House is expected to officially send the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday.
The inter-party dispute centers on whether Trump committed unforgivable offenses in his campaign to overturn election results and push protesters shortly before the riot, as well as whether the impeachment process can continue afterwards. the departure of an American president.
“The impeachment article that was sent from the House suggests ungodly conduct,” Romney told Fox News on Sunday. “It’s pretty clear that over the last year or so there has been an effort to corrupt the election of the United States and it was not by President Biden, it was by President Trump.”
Romney added that there was a “preponderance of legal opinion” that going ahead with the trial after Trump left office is constitutional.
Republicans are unlikely to succeed in an early vote to dismiss the lawsuit, given Democrats now control a slim majority in the 100-seat chamber, with 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris voting to defeat. equality.
Yet those responsible for impeachment from the Democratic House, who will argue for impeachment during the Senate trial, will face an uphill battle; the Senate must get a two-thirds majority to condemn Trump.
This means 17 Republicans would need to break ranks and vote to convict. Such a conviction could also lead to Trump being banned to hold federal office in the future.
Romney’s statements contrasted sharply with those of several of his Senate colleagues, who have increasingly begun to take a stand on the issue in recent days.
In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Republican Senator Tom Cotton argued that the continuation of the trial after Trump’s departure was unconstitutional.
“I think a lot of Americans are going to think it’s strange that the Senate is spending its time trying to convict and impeach a man who stepped down a week ago,” Cotton said.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, also on Fox News Sunday, called the trial “stupid.”
“We already have a blazing fire in this country and it’s like taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on the fire,” he says.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator John Cornyn, in a tweet on Saturday, suggested that moving forward with the impeachment trial of a president who has left office would set a precedent that could lead to the impeachment of “former Democratic presidents” if Republicans regain control of Congress.
Some researchers argue that conducting an impeachment trial after a president has left office is unconstitutional, while others say it is allowed as long as the process begins before a president has left office.
But the question of whether the impeachment process can begin en bloc after the departure of a president is considered even less clear.
Cotton, Rubio and Cornyn join Republican Senators Mike Rounds, Lindsey Graham, John Barrasso and Ron Johnson in publicly opposing Trump’s trial, which is expected to remain a political force for years to come.
Republicans to watch
Yet several influential Republicans in the Senate have been less clear on their intentions.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has laid the blame for the Capitol riot at Trump’s feet, claiming he had “provoked” his supporters who were “fed lies” by the president and other powerful people.
McConnell did not say how he would vote on impeachment or take a public position on the constitutionality of the trial.
Other Republican senators will be closely watched in the coming weeks, including Lisa Murkowski, who called on Trump to step down after the riot and later said the House acted “appropriately” in impeaching him, and Susan Collins , who said Trump “bears the blame.” for the incident.
Neither has taken a public position on the constitutionality of the trial or said how they will vote.
Sen. Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey have also said they will be ready to impeach the president, but questioned whether a Senate trial would further divide the country.