Washington (AP) – Before the impeachment process against Donald Trump in the Senate, a conviction and suspension from the office of the former US president is increasingly unlikely.
Forty-five of the 50 Republicans in the Senate on Tuesday (local time) backed a motion by their party rival Rand Paul, who called the process unconstitutional and wanted to stop its progress.
Only five Republicans voted with the 50 Democrats. Paul’s request was rejected by a majority. A two-thirds vote in favor of a conviction of Trump, which would be a prerequisite for the suspension from office desired by the Democrats, hardly seems realistic against this background. The Senate trial begins in the second week of February.
Paul argued that the trial was unconstitutional because it was directed not against a president, but against a private individual. Trump has not been in office since his successor Joe Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20. The Democrats’ majority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, called Paul’s argument “downright wrong.” Otherwise, a president could avoid conviction and suspension from office by committing crimes against the country shortly before the end of his term or by resigning before trial in the Senate, he said.
The House of Representatives on Monday forwarded the charges against Trump to the Senate – the other chamber in Congress. Trump is accused of “inciting a riot”. The Democrats and some Republicans are accusing Trump of turning on his supporters before storming the Capitol. In the riot on January 6, five people were killed, including a police officer.
Senate Republican Mitch McConnell voted in favor of Paul’s move on Tuesday. McConnell had publicly blamed Trump for the attack on Congress last week. US media had previously reported that the influential senator had stated internally that he did not know how to vote in an impeachment process. The Democrats had hoped to win him over to condemn Trump. McConnell’s example may have been followed by other Republican senators.
Republican Senator and Trump ally Lindsey Graham told Fox News Tuesday night (local time): “There will be a motion of rejection on the first day of the trial. I think we get more than 45 votes when we hear arguments as to why it should be rejected. In the event that 51 votes for a rejection don’t come together, Graham threatens to delay the proceedings for weeks or months. Senator Ted Cruz, who is also a close ally of Trump, told Fox News the Democrats acted out of hatred against the ex- President Their motive is “retaliation”, the procedure is “a waste of time”.
Even among lawyers, it is disputed whether impeachment proceedings against an ex-president are constitutional. The corresponding constitutional article explicitly identifies Presidents, Vice Presidents and government officials against whom such proceedings may be directed. However, the Congressional Scientific Service (CRS) writes, “It appears that most of the scholars who have studied the matter have concluded that Congress has the power to extend impeachment to government officials who are no longer in the Are office. to sit.”
The longest-serving US senator, Democrat Patrick Leahy, was sworn in as chair of the impeachment lawsuit against Trump on Tuesday. Leahy, 80, then took the oath of the 100 senators, who play the role of jury in the proceedings and who ultimately decide on the trial. Impeachment proceedings against the president must be conducted by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Since Trump is no longer in office, the senior senator now has this job.
The reading of the indictment, the swearing-in of the chairman and senators, and the initial statements of the defendant and the prosecutor are part of the preparations for the proceedings, according to the Scientific Service of Congress. The actual start of the proceedings – scheduled for the second week of February – is marked by the opening speech of the Lower House, followed by that of the defense.
Angry Trump supporters forcibly entered the Capitol on January 6 after Trump delivered an inflammatory speech not far from the White House. At the time, Congress had gathered in the Capitol to formally confirm Biden’s election victory. Trump had tried to undo Biden’s victory.
A two-thirds majority of senators would be required to convict Trump. The Republicans and Democrats of the new President Biden each have 50 seats in the Senate. So 17 Republicans should also stand up to Trump. In the event of a conviction, a simple majority on a second vote would be enough to impose the lifelong ban on office at the federal level against Trump, as demanded by the Democrats.
Biden, who has been largely unobtrusive regarding the impeachment proceedings against his predecessor, had already told CNN on Monday that he did not believe 17 Republicans would vote to condemn Trump. But he spoke out for the proceedings. “I think it has to be done.”
The prosecutors and the defense now have time to work on their impeachment papers. Written arguments from the House of Representatives and Trump’s attorneys must be filed Feb. 8. The actual impeachment process in the Senate would then begin on February 9. Democrats and Republicans in the Senate agreed on Friday about the second week of February as the start date.
The Senate wants to regulate other matters until the actual start of the procedure. This is convenient for Biden, as he is dependent on Senate approval for the confirmation of his nominee cabinet members and other top personalities. On Monday, Janet Yellen was confirmed as the country’s prime minister of finance. On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Antony Blinken as the new foreign minister of the Biden government.