(Natural News) Donald Trump, the first president to be impeached twice, keeps finding himself on the wrong side of history. He is now set to become the first president to undergo an impeachment trial after leaving office, making him the first private citizen to go through an impeachment trial.
The Constitution lists the president, vice president and all civil officers as a possible subject of impeachment. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul tried to drive home that point to his colleagues, but his efforts fell short. With the help of five Republicans, the senators voted 55-45 to table Paul’s point of order.
“If we are going to put every politician in jail, are we going to impeach every politician who has used the words ‘fight’ figuratively in a speech? Shame,” Paul said ahead of the vote.
“As of noon last Wednesday, Donald Trump holds none of the positions listed in the Constitution. He is a private citizen,” he continued. “The presiding officer is not the chief justice, nor does he claim to be. His presence in the chief justice’s absence demonstrates that this is not a trial of the president, but a private citizen.” (Related: ‘They’re wasting our time’: Rand Paul shreds ‘unconstitutional’ Trump impeachment, lists examples of ‘Democrat incitement.’)
His words were not enough to sway the Democrats and the five Republicans who voted against his bid to stop the impeachment trial.
Impeachment trial a “political theater”
Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma described the upcoming trial, which is set to start on Feb. 9, as a “political theater.”
“This is not a trial; this is political theater. You cannot remove someone from office who is already out of office. In this trial there is no current president, no chief justice, and no possibility someone could be removed from office because they are not in any office. In a moment when our nation needs to unite, this trial will only create even deeper divisions,” Lankford said.
But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, used social media to reaffirm his stance that the trial is not unconstitutional.
“We need truth and accountability for Donald Trump’s actions. His impeachment trial will move forward in the United States Senate,” Schumer tweeted.
Before the senators convened to vote regarding the constitutionality of Trump’s impeachment trial, Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School already went on record to say it goes against the Constitution.
“It will be unconstitutional, but that probably won’t bother the senators,” Dershowitz told Fox News earlier this month. “The Constitution is very clear. The subject, the object, the purpose of impeachment is to remove a sitting president. And there are two precedents. One is very obvious. When President Nixon resigned in anticipation of being impeached and removed, there was no effort to impeach him after he left office.”
Impeachment is a numbers game
Even as Rand’s motion failed to stop the impeachment trial, it does show that Trump may have the edge in numbers.
With 45 Republican senators deeming it unconstitutional to impeach a former president, Democrats would be hard-pressed to find the requisite votes to convict Trump. Convicting a president during impeachment trial requires a two-thirds majority or 67 of 100 votes from senators.
Only five Republicans voted to proceed with the impeachment trial – Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania).
The House voted to impeach Trump on Jan. 13 on the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection.” Democrats claimed Trump incited violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Ten Republicans joined 222 Democrats to pass the resolution to impeach by 232 to 197 count.
If the Senate convicts Trump, it could then vote on whether to bar him from public office. But this is still a long shot as Democrats need to swing 17 Republican votes.
Any Republican who votes to convict Trump will surely face backlash among the GOP base. The 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump can attest to that as they are now facing significant criticism and primary threats.
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