Senate votes Trump trial constitutional; six Republicans vote 'yes'


The Senate rejected an attempt on Tuesday to derail former President Trump’s impeachment trial by getting it declared unconstitutional.

Senators voted 56-44 that the trial is constitutional. The vote required only a simple majority.

Six GOP senators joined with Democrats to say they believe the trial is constitutional, largely mirroring a similar vote from late last month. 

Only Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who had previously supported an effort by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that would have declared the trial unconstitutional, flipped and said on Tuesday that he believes it is constitutional. 

Despite Cassidy's vote, the result again underscored the uphill battle Democrats face to get the 17 GOP senators needed to convict Trump.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership who voted to say it was unconstitutional, predicted that it was a sign of the trial ending in Trump's acquittal. 
 
"I would think the underlying view of what impeachment is all about would be the determining factor at the end," Blunt said.
 
Asked if he expected the vote would be similar to the question on acquittal, he added, "I do." 
 
Even after an effective video and a presentation from the Democratic impeachment managers that received good reviews from Republicans, the majority of GOP senators voted that the trial was unconstitutional.
 
The presentation from Trump's attorneys, in particular Bruce Castor, drew broad criticism from Senate Republicans, who felt that it missed the mark and was at times hard to follow. 
Cassidy panned the presentation from Trump's team, contrasting it with the House impeachment managers he believes were more effective. 

"I said I'd be an impartial juror. Anyone listening to those arguments — the House managers were focused. They were organized. They relied upon both precedent, the Constitution and legal scholars. They made a compelling reason. President Trump's team was disorganized," Cassidy said. 

He added that "as an impartial juror, I'm going to vote for the side that did the good job."

GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) had previously voted to say the trial was constitutional and voted the same way on Tuesday.

"I thought they did a good job in outlining the Constitutional arguments of both sides. I continue to be persuaded by the weight of the scholarly analysis, which says it's constitutional to carry out a trial after someone's left office," said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Collins said she was "perplexed" by Castor. She added that the signaling out by Trump's team of Toomey and Sasse—who voted last month to say they thought the trial was constitutional— was "inappropriate."  
House impeachment managers and Trump's team spent hours debating if the trial was constitutional ahead of Tuesday's vote. That's a shift from last month's vote, where Republicans appeared caught off guard that Paul was forcing the issue. 

But senators say the result of the vote was largely already settled after senators had to make a decision last month. 
 
"I think it played out pretty much as expected. The result of this trial is preordained. President Trump will be acquitted," Cruz said, while calling Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House manager, "impressive." 
 
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) added that "I mean, nobody's mind was changed one way or the other."

"Maybe, I don't know maybe Cassidy’s mind was," he said.

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