Six Republicans vote with Democrats to proceed with impeachment trial

Author
Newstalk ZB / CNN,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Feb 2021, 3:49PM
(Photo via AP)
(Photo via AP)

Six Republicans vote with Democrats to proceed with impeachment trial

Author
Newstalk ZB / CNN,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Feb 2021, 3:49PM

Jared Carter from the Vermont Law School joined Simon Barnett and Phil Gifford to discuss what happens next in the trial and how many Republicans will ultimately need to side with the Democrats for this to pass

Six Republicans joined all of their Democratic colleagues to vote that the impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump is constitutional, with Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy emerging as the sole Republican to switch his vote after an initial vote on constitutionality last week.

The 56-44 final vote marked the closing chapter of Tuesday's proceedings, with the Senate adjourned until noon on Wednesday (local time). All but six Republican senators voted that the trial was unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president. It was the second time such a vote was taken after Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, forced a vote on the same question last month.

Here's which Republican senators voted that the impeachment trial was consistent with the Constitution:

  • Sen. Susan Collins of Maine
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
  • Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska
  • Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

Cassidy told CNN Tuesday after the House managers' presentation that it was a "very good opening" and they made strong arguments. During their presentation, House impeachment managers showed how rioters violently breached the US Capitol and attacked police officers, invoking Trump's name as they tried to disrupt the certification of the November election.

"House managers were focused, they were organized," and "made a compelling argument," Cassidy said after the vote. In contrast, he added, "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."

Several Republican senators slammed the arguments offered by Trump's legal team as lackluster. Murkowski said she "was really stunned at the first attorney who presented for former President Trump," attorney Bruce Castor.

"I couldn't figure out where he was going, spent 45 minutes going somewhere, but I don't think he helped with us better understanding where he was coming from on the constitutionality of this," she added. "And I felt that (fellow Trump attorney David) Schoen did a ... better job but I think they sure had a missed opportunity with their first, first attorney there."

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn bluntly told reporters, "I thought the President's lawyer the first lawyer just rambled on and on and on and didn't really address the constitutional argument -- finally the second lawyer got around to it, and I thought, did an effective job." He quickly added, "But I've seen a lot of lawyers and a lot of arguments and that was it was not one of the finest I've seen."

Trump was unhappy with Castor's opening argument on the Senate floor, according to two people familiar with his reaction. Trump was almost screaming as Castor made meandering arguments that struggled to get at the heart of his defense team's argument, which is supposed to be over the constitutionality of holding a trial for a president no longer in office.

Schoen, who spoke second, was initially going to present first, not Castor, according to two people familiar with the plan.

The Senate tabled the initial effort by Paul, a Kentucky Republican, late last month to force a vote on the constitutionality of the trial, but the vote offered an indicator for how Republican senators -- who overwhelmingly voted for Paul's measure -- feel about the trial.

Paul's motion was killed on a 55-45 vote, with five Republicans joining all Democrats, meaning 45 Republicans voted for Paul's effort. Romney, Sasse, Collins, Murkowski and Toomey crossed party lines to join with Democrats on that vote.

text by Manu Raju and Caroline Kelly, CNN