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Senators vote to proceed with Trump's impeachment trial, but conviction may be elusive

WorldFeb 09, 2021 07:01PM ET
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3/3 © Reuters. Trucks advertising in support of convicting former U.S President Donald Trump in his upcoming second impeachment trial are seen parked on the National Mall with the U.S. Capitol Building visible behind them in Washington 2/3

By David Morgan and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A divided U.S. Senate voted largely along party lines on Tuesday to move ahead with Donald Trump's impeachment trial on a charge of inciting the deadly assault on the Capitol, but conviction appears unlikely barring a major shift among Republicans.

The Senate voted 56-44 to proceed to the first-ever trial of a former president, rejecting his defense lawyers' argument that Trump was beyond the reach of the Senate after having left the White House on Jan. 20.

Democrats hope to disqualify Trump from ever again holding public office, but Tuesday's outcome suggested they face long odds. Only six Republican senators joined Democrats to vote in favor of allowing the trial to take place, far short of the 17 needed to secure a conviction.

Convicting Trump would require a two-thirds majority in the 50-50 Senate.

The vote capped a dramatic day in the Senate chamber. Democratic lawmakers serving as prosecutors opened the trial with a graphic video interspersing images of the Jan. 6 Capitol violence with clips of Trump's incendiary speech to a crowd of supporters moments earlier urging them to "fight like hell" to overturn his Nov. 3 election defeat.

Senators, serving as jurors, watched as screens showed Trump's followers throwing down barriers and hitting police officers at the Capitol. The video included the moment when police guarding the House of Representatives chamber fatally shot protester Ashli Babbitt, one of five people including a police officer who died in the rampage.

The mob attacked police, sent lawmakers scrambling for safety and interrupted the formal congressional certification of President Joe Biden's victory after Trump had spent two months challenging the election results based on false claims of widespread voting fraud.

"If that's not an impeachment offense, then there is no such thing," Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, who led a team of nine House members prosecuting the case, told the assembled senators after showing the video.

He wept as he recounted how relatives he brought to the Capitol that day to witness the election certification had to shelter in an office near the House floor, saying: "They thought they were going to die."

In contrast to the Democrats' emotional presentation, Trump's lawyers attacked the process, arguing that the proceeding was an unconstitutional, partisan effort to close off Trump's political future even after he had already departed the White House.

"What they really want to accomplish here in the name of the Constitution is to bar Donald Trump from ever running for political office again, but this is an affront to the Constitution no matter who they target today," David Schoen, one of Trump's lawyers, told senators.

He denounced the "insatiable lust for impeachment" among Democrats before airing his own video, which stitched together clips of various Democratic lawmakers calling for Trump's impeachment going back to 2017.

HOUSE MANAGERS' CASE 'COMPELLING, COGENT'

Trump, who was impeached by the Democratic-led House on Jan. 13, is only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, and the only one to be impeached twice.

His defense argued he was exercising his right to free speech under the Constitution's First Amendment when he addressed supporters before the Capitol attack.

Bruce Castor, one of Trump's lawyers, said the storming of the Capitol by hundreds of people "should be denounced in the most vigorous terms," but argued that "a small group of criminals," not Trump, were responsible for the violence.

Most legal experts have said it is constitutional to have an impeachment trial after an official has left office.

"Presidents can't inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened. And yet that is the rule that President Trump asks you to adopt," Democratic Representative Joe Neguse told the senators.

Most of the senators at the trial were present in the Capitol on Jan. 6, when many lawmakers said they feared for their own safety.

Several Republican senators said they found Trump's defense, particularly Castor's argument, disjointed and unclear.

"The House managers made a compelling, cogent case. And the president's team did not," said Republican Senator Bill Cassidy.

Cassidy had voted to block the trial on constitutional grounds last month, a Republican effort that failed 55-45. He was the only Republican to switch sides on Tuesday.

Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard University law professor emeritus who served as one of Trump's lawyers during his first impeachment, also said he found Castor's presentation ineffective. He said he had declined an invitation to defend Trump again because he does not support Trump's claims that the election was invalid.

"I don't believe it was fraudulent, and I didn't want to be part of any defense team that would even imply that," he said.

Watching the proceedings on TV at his Florida resort, Trump was unhappy with Castor's performance, said a person familiar with the situation.

The trial could provide clues on the Republican Party's direction following Trump's tumultuous four-year presidency. Sharp (OTC:SHCAY) divisions have emerged between Trump loyalists and those hoping to move the party in a new direction. Democrats for their part are concerned the trial could impede Biden's ability to swiftly advance an ambitious legislative agenda.

But few Republican senators appear willing to break with Trump.

Senator Josh Hawley, who helped lead the opposition in the Senate to the presidential election results, predicted that Tuesday's vote would ultimately reflect the chamber's final decision.

"That's probably going to be the outcome, right there," Hawley told reporters.

One year ago, the then-Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Trump on charges of obstructing Congress and abuse of power for pressuring Ukraine to launch an investigation into Biden and his son Hunter in 2019.

Senators vote to proceed with Trump's impeachment trial, but conviction may be elusive
 

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Comments (21)
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 10, 2021 12:48PM ET
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Top dog remains head of the pack ??
Frederick Chotsky
Chotsky Feb 09, 2021 10:07PM ET
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The minute that the Republicans get control of the House and Senate again, they need to impeach Obama for the extrajudicial drone strike on an American citizen named Anwar Nasser al-Awlaki. That's the pandora's box the Democrats just opened.
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 09, 2021 10:07PM ET
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...and that should happen about (never ??).
Nordic Fire
Nordic Fire Feb 09, 2021 6:11PM ET
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Donald Trump and his republican cronies organized a coup and now they vote to give him a free ride. Welcome to the end of USA.
Stephen Willis
Stephen Willis Feb 09, 2021 6:11PM ET
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please read the "Federalist Paper "
Joseph Armour
Joseph Armour Feb 09, 2021 6:11PM ET
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Before you read the Federalist papers I suggest you get a dictionary and learn the meaning of some of the words your throwing about. You clearly are parroting the TV and have little understanding of what you speak of. It is people like you who blindly follow their favorite demagogues parroting all their inflammatory language which in the end leads to the dismantling of constitutions and the rights of average citizens. Then predictably, like little children, start crying 'why did this happen, I don't understand.' Sew what you reap. That's your answer.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Feb 09, 2021 2:55PM ET
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Jas been shown tjat antifa infiltrated the capitol, dressed as maga supporters. Evidence of this, videos and confessions is all over the web.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Feb 09, 2021 2:55PM ET
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Lmfao OK
Mike Wellons
Mike Wellons Feb 09, 2021 2:55PM ET
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Don't be embarrassed, many others have been fooled as well.
gary Gould
gary Gould Feb 09, 2021 2:55PM ET
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jaha.wow you guys gotta get out more if you believe that you would beleive anything ..that's hilarious ...
Robert Nchor
Robert Nchor Feb 09, 2021 2:55PM ET
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Kelly Mayer, just like the way the white supremacist terrorists infiltrated Antifa and BLM to cause violence?
Stephen Willis
Stephen Willis Feb 09, 2021 2:55PM ET
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Where in the constitution does the House of representatives over a private citizen? This is a kangaroo court!
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 09, 2021 2:46PM ET
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.....allegiance, to the Flag, of The .....
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Feb 09, 2021 2:40PM ET
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This loser is going down, one way or another. Give him some waterboarding sessions at Abu Ghraib, then lock him up at Guantanamo and throw away the key
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Feb 09, 2021 2:30PM ET
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Waste of another $40 million. Democrats have a fear imo of DJT..The midterm is easily going GOP and there will be massive rallies against DNC & RNC's rinos..btw 100 x 2/3 = 67 rounded..
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Feb 09, 2021 2:30PM ET
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Unprecedent WH conferences' dislike ratio seems to point that way.
Henrik Lindberg
Henrik Feb 09, 2021 12:46PM ET
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Go Trump!
James Pattison
James Pattison Feb 09, 2021 12:45PM ET
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People out of work... starving... and this is what washington wants to do... republcians democrats no difference... they are failing the people... just there to take money for themselves
László Popescu
László Popescu Feb 09, 2021 12:45PM ET
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James Pattison, I cannot agree more! I am not an American, have never put a toe on the land of an English speaking country, but I am a human beeing, feeling compassion for those that are suffering due to leadership failure, no matter if that is coming from one party or the other. I believe this is not currency well spent. On the contrary...
John Matson
John Matson Feb 09, 2021 12:42PM ET
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What complete waste of time and money. Not to mention this all illegal under our constitution.
Jurgen Daub
Jurgen Daub Feb 09, 2021 12:42PM ET
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people say what fits their believe, not the facts
Mike Wellons
Mike Wellons Feb 09, 2021 12:42PM ET
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I agree. It is ok to let any President break any law in January, without any repercussion. Its a waste of time to hold him accountable. Don't worry that the next President will be greenlighted to do the same or worse, and nothing can be done to stop him. Yes, its a waste of money
Mike Wellons
Mike Wellons Feb 09, 2021 12:42PM ET
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Keep in mind, it could be Dem President pulling this kind of stunt next time, yes, waste of oney
Julie Cruise
Julie Cruise Feb 09, 2021 12:42PM ET
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Mike Wellons what law did he break?
John Burton
John Burton Feb 09, 2021 12:33PM ET
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Dems spending more of taxpayer money to promote their crooked agenda!
AlexG Mom
AlexG Mom Feb 09, 2021 12:08PM ET
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Might as well impeach Clinton for trading his office for sexual favors, Wilson for being a member of the KKK (doesn't matter he is dead) impeach! Jimmy Carter for tri lateral commission, the list is impressive! LOL
Frederick Chotsky
Chotsky Feb 09, 2021 12:08PM ET
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Even better, they should impeach Obama for the extrajudicial ****of an American citizen named Anwar Nasser al-Awlaki
Horde NotTrade
Horde NotTrade Feb 09, 2021 11:42AM ET
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Small hats control the media. That needs to change.
John Burton
John Burton Feb 09, 2021 11:42AM ET
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That is changing, like china and Russia, if the dems have their way all public speech will have to go thru only approved sources. They are trying to shutdown or fire all other sources. Welcome to socialism🤔
Casador Del Oso
Casador Del Oso Feb 09, 2021 11:39AM ET
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Another waste of tax dollars.
Bret Lafrance
Bret Lafrance Feb 09, 2021 11:26AM ET
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An storming of the capital occurred, people were killed, a man instigated it with his words.
Steven Walters
Wolverex Feb 09, 2021 11:26AM ET
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Wrong. Preplanned before any “words”. Stop watching CNN.
Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson Feb 09, 2021 11:26AM ET
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Steven Walters All of you trumpers are in denial
Josh OBarr
Josh OBarr Feb 09, 2021 11:04AM ET
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Every BLM ralley millions of dollars of damage several people die. Capitol protest "Deadly" LMAO
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Feb 09, 2021 10:45AM ET
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Impeachment was defined as ‘remove current officals’. Dems violate constitution period. Dems only give a f about the constitution for their advantage, otherwise they dont
Mike Wellons
Mike Wellons Feb 09, 2021 10:45AM ET
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So its ok for a President to break any law, as long as its in January? Nice argument you have there
Me comment
Me comment Feb 09, 2021 10:32AM ET
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There should be no fight on the constitution as congress cannot make that legal call, when convicted then trump can take it to the supreme court to settle it.
Jose Soberanes
Jose Soberanes Feb 09, 2021 9:59AM ET
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Washington DC Swamp needs to be removed....Trump was doing an outstanding job...and for that, liberals are trying anything that they can invent to remove him, even if it is unconstitutional! Trump will be back for 2024!
milena villa escobar
milena villa escobar Feb 09, 2021 9:48AM ET
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American democracy is in shambles. This is all just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We had a chance to remedy the situation created by 50 years of liberalism and that chance is gone. We have no one to blame but ourselves
Green Mango
Green Mango Feb 09, 2021 9:48AM ET
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No, it's leftist big education to blame.  Blame yourself if you want.  There are plenty of us who pushed back for the past 4 years.  We aren't done here
Chris Cummins
Chris Cummins Feb 09, 2021 9:48AM ET
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Green Mango  "Liberal adjective 1. willing to respect or accept behavior or opinions different from one's own; open to new ideas." I can see how that would be a problem for you.
Green Mango
Green Mango Feb 09, 2021 9:48AM ET
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Chris Cummins  "Why can' they just accept our fake news and junk "science"!, Chris Alice Cummins
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Feb 09, 2021 6:56AM ET
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Only way of taking down the vast majority of ppl that voted for Trump is to take out Trump. Trump is dangerous for the oligarchy communist system they want to impose. The people must make themselves heard and not go along with this insanity.
Green Mango
Green Mango Feb 09, 2021 6:56AM ET
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Bring it mary
Green Mango
Green Mango Feb 09, 2021 6:56AM ET
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You're all talk
Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson Feb 09, 2021 6:56AM ET
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So are you Orange Mango!
 
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