Senate votes 56-44 to proceed with Trump impeachment trial

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An overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans voted Tuesday against proceeding with the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump — signaling for a second time that his conviction is all but impossible.

The 56-44 vote to try Trump for allegedly inciting the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters followed more than three hours of arguments by lawyers on both sides.

Six Republicans voted with all 50 Democrats, one more than during a vote last month that gauged support for one of the former president’s key defenses — that the Senate has no jurisdiction over him because he’s no longer in office.

But the vote also signals that it’s highly unlikely 17 GOP senators will join with the Senate’s 50 Democrats to comprise the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said he switched his position on Trump’s trial based on what he described as the strength of the Democratic House impeachment managers in making their case — and the relative weakness of Trump’s lawyers.

“President Trump’s team were disorganized. They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand — and when they talked about it, they kind of glided over, almost as if they were embarrassed of their arguments,” he said following the vote.

“Now, I’m an impartial juror. And one side’s doing a great job and the other side’s doing a terrible job at the issue at hand, and as an impartial juror, I’m going to vote for the side that did a good job.”

The other Republican senators who reprised their January votes were frequent Trump critic Mitt Romney of Utah — who cast the lone GOP vote to convict Trump during his first impeachment trial — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who in October announced he was retiring from politics.

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