Forty-five Republican senators on Tuesday, notably including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), voted against tabling Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) effort to deem the forthcoming Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump as unconstitutional, possibly foreshadowing the results of next month’s trial.
While many Republicans claim that it is unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial once a president has left office, supporters of holding a trial for Trump argue that historical precedent is on their side, often citing the 1876 impeachment of Secretary of War William Belknap after he had resigned from his post.
Moreover, while a report this month from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) acknowledged that there are reasonable arguments in favor of both interpretations of the Constitution, which does not explicitly mention if an official can only be impeached while still in office, the CRS report said that “it appears that most scholars who have closely examined the question have concluded that Congress has authority to extend the impeachment process to officials who are no longer in office.”
Tuesday afternoon, Paul raised a point of order to hold a vote regarding the constitutionality of the impeachment trial since Trump is no longer president. However, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) then requested a vote to table it, which senators voted 55-45 in favor of doing. Despite Paul’s point of order being killed, the sheer amount of Republican senators who supported his motion, including McConnell, demonstrates that there may not be as much appetite in the Senate GOP to impeach Trump.
The five Senate Republicans who joined Democrats in voting to table Paul’s point of order were Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), Ben Sasse (Neb.) Pat Toomey (Pa.), and Mitt Romney (Utah).
“I think there will be enough support on it to show there’s no chance they can impeach the president,” Paul had said earlier in the day. “If 34 people support my resolution that this is an unconstitutional proceeding, it shows they don’t have the votes.”
After his point of order was tabled, Paul claimed that the impeachment trial will be “dead on arrival.”
“45 Senators agreed that this sham of a ‘trial’ is unconstitutional,” Paul tweeted. “That is more than will be needed to acquit and to eventually end this partisan impeachment process. This ‘trial’ is dead on arrival in the Senate.”
In order for the Senate to convict Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” 17 Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats in order to reach a two-thirds supermajority. If Trump is convicted, he will be barred in the future from serving in public office.
The impeachment trial will begin the week of February 8, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is the president pro tempore and the senior-most Senate Democrat, will oversee the trial.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’
Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social, “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”
Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”
It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.
Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.
And the escalation of war is visible.
Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.
Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.
Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”
Morning. Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.
— Oleksiy Goncharenko (@GoncharenkoUa) January 26, 2023
The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”
F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.
Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.
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