Senate Democrats block Republican constitutional challenge to second impeachment trial News
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Senate Democrats block Republican constitutional challenge to second impeachment trial

Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a motion to vote on the constitutionality of the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

The motion was brought to the floor by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who raised two objections to the trial going forward. First, he noted that the Constitution says impeachment only applies to the President, Vice-President, and other civil officers, and that as of January 20 Trump held none of those offices. His second objection was to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) presiding over the trial as opposed to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which shows, Paul said, that “this is not a trial of the President but of a private citizen.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called Paul’s theory of unconstitutionality “flat-out wrong by every frame of analysis,” and he pointed out that one of the judgments the Senate can issue is to disqualify a person from ever holding future office. If the only power the Senate had was to remove presidents from office, the Constitution would not have included that phrase.

Schumer also brought up the 1876 impeachment of William Belknap, President Ulysses Grant’s Secretary of War, and how impeachment proceedings moved forward in both the House and the Senate despite the fact that Belknap had resigned from office. Not being able to hold an impeachment trial for former officials “would amount to a constitutional get-out-of-jail-free card for any President who commits an impeachable offense,” he concluded.

The vote to block Paul’s motion was 55 to 45, with only five Republicans joining all 50 Democrats. The Republican support for Paul’s motion bodes ill for Democratic hopes to convict the former president, as a vote to convict requires two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 senators.