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How many Republican senators have voted to dismiss Trump's impeachment?

With Trump facing his second impeachment trial in the Senate, Republicans are arguing it would be unconstitutional to try Trump now that he’s a civilian.

How many Republican senators have voted to dismiss Trump's impeachment?
POOL REUTERS

Senator Rand Paul on Tuesday introduced a motion to dismiss the single article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump claiming it is unconstitutional. The argument goes that impeachment is for removing an incumbent president so the Senate does not have the constitutional authority to try Trump now that he has left office. The motion was defeated but forty-five of his colleagues agreed with him.

The size of the support among GOP members does not bode well for a conviction of the former president who was impeached by the House for a second time just over a week before he left office. Two-thirds of the Senate would need to vote to convict Trump after the trial which is set to begin 9 February. That means 17 Republicans would have to side with Democrats in finding him guilty of inciting insurrection.

Why did Republicans vote to dismiss the impeachment?

The senators were voting as to whether it is constitutional to impeach a former president, but not whether or not Trump is guilty of the charge against him. The constitutional language is vague on this issue and legal experts disagree, with both sides of the political spectrum arguing it is and isn’t. The main argument against impeachment relies on two parts of the constitution in Article II, Section 4, “shall be removed from office if convicted in an impeachment trial,” and in Article 1, Section 3 “shall not extend further than to removal from Office.” But there isn’t a consensus among the GOP with five of their members, Senators Collins, Murkowski, Romney, Sasse, and Toomey, voting against the motion and to proceed with the trial.

“President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States” shall be removed from office if convicted in an impeachment trial of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Article II, Section 4

Trump is not the first federal officeholder to be tried after leaving office. In 1876 the Senate held an impeachment trial for Secretary of War William Belknap over corruption charges. He resigned just before he was impeached by the House of Representatives. The impeachment managers argued that departing office does not excuse the alleged offense, otherwise officeholders would simply resign to escape impeachment or conviction. A majority of the Senate agreed and voted 37-29 that Belknap was eligible to be impeached despite resigning from office. However the margin of vote didn’t meet the two-thirds majority to convict.

“Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.”

Article I, Section 3

Even if Trump were to be convicted in an impeachment trial, he could still challenge it before the courts. Then it would be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether or not impeaching a former officeholder is constitutional.

Why impeach Trump if he is no longer in office?

By impeaching former President Trump, he will no longer be able to hold any political office. There has been speculation that he is considering running for President again in 2024 and even of creating his own political party.

Impeachment is one of two ways that he can be banned from ever holding office again. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment provides an alternative path for disqualification. The provision states that no person shall hold office if they have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States. It was enacted following the Civil War to bar Confederates from holding public office. Only a simple majority of both chambers is needed to invoke this penalty. The penalty can later be removed but would require a two-thirds of both houses vote in favor of doing so.

Why didn’t the trial begin while Trump was still in office?

The articles of impeachment were not sent to the Senate immediately since the Senate wouldn’t be in session until the day before Joe Biden’s inauguration. The Democrats waited further until an agreement was reached in the Senate for the power-sharing structure that would regulate how the evenly split Senate would operate going forward. Under an agreement with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell the trial was delayed to give the Senate more time to get Biden’s nominees for his Cabinet approved.

Why is Trump on trial?

Trump’s second impeachment stems from his involvement in whipping up a mob on 6 January that went on to assault the Capitol building while a joint session of Congress was convened to certify Joe Biden's Electoral College win. The invasion of the Capitol led to five deaths and the temporary suspension of the vote certification until the assailants could be removed. The House voted to impeach him for a second time a week after the events and just a little over a week from him leaving office.