Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky believes the upcoming Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is an unconstitutional, partisan farce, and is sparing no pains to drive that point home.
Paul on Tuesday called for a procedural vote to scrap the trial on the grounds that it has no basis in the Constitution.
According to Axios, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for Paul’s motion to be tabled, a vote that passed 55-45 with 45 Republican senators siding with Paul. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania voted with the Democrats.
However, that vote could be an indication of the odds for Trump’s conviction, which would require support from two-thirds of members, or all Senate Democrats and 17 Republicans.
Paul said prior to the vote that his goal was to expose such a trial as unconstitutional and illegitimate.
“Impeachment is for removal from office and the accused here has already left office. Hyper-partisan Democrats are about to drag our great country into the gutter of rancor and vitriol the likes of which has never been seen in our nation’s history,” Paul said, according to Fox News.
“I think [Tuesday’s vote will] be enough to show that more than a third of the Senate thinks that the whole proceeding is unconstitutional, which will show that ultimately they don’t have the votes to do an impeachment,” Paul told Capitol Hill reporters Tuesday, according to NPR.
In a Senate floor speech Tuesday, Paul said the impeachment trial is another part of the Democratic Party’s years-long obsession with Trump.
“Instead of doing the nation’s work with their new majorities in the House, the Senate and the executive branch, Democrats are wasting the nation’s time on a partisan vendetta against a man no longer in office,” Paul said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Without him as their boogeyman, they might have to legislate and to actually convince Americans that their policy prescriptions are the right ones.
“This sham of an impeachment will ostensibly ask whether the (former) president incited the reprehensible behavior and violence of Jan. 6 when he said: ‘I know everyone here will soon march to the Capitol to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.’ Peacefully and patriotically — hardly words of violence,” Paul said.
Paul noted that Democrats have used language that could be considered an incitement to violence.
Sen. Rand Paul:
"No Democrat will honestly ask whether Bernie Sanders incited the shooter that nearly killed Steve Scalise."
"No Democrat will ask whether Maxine Waters incited violence when she literally told her supporters" to confront Trump officials in public. pic.twitter.com/ytDKsscxgh
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) January 26, 2021
“No Democrat will ask whether Maxine Waters incited violence when she literally told her supporters, and I quote, that ‘if you see a member of the Trump administration at a restaurant, at a department store, at a gas station, or any place, you create a crowd and you push back on them,'” Paul said.
“No Democrat has ever considered impeaching Maxine for her violent rhetoric. In fact, Republicans, to our credit, never once thought it legitimate to formally censure or impeach these Democrats.”
In an interview with The Blaze, Paul said the unconstitutional nature of the proceeding is shown by the fact that Senate president pro tempore Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, will preside over the trial instead of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
“My point is, if you’re impeaching the president, the chief justice needs to be there. But if the person is no longer president, he’s a private citizen.”
Paul delivered a short primer on the Constitution.
“If someone has committed a crime, and they’re no longer the president, the Department of Justice has to accuse them of a crime that you go to a court,” Paul said. “But this is only for impeaching somebody. And the Constitution says, when you impeach and later on, you can disqualify. But it’s ‘and.’ It isn’t ‘or.’ If you can’t impeach him any longer, we’re doing something that’s never been to a president before. It’s going to divide the country further. It’s a huge mistake.”
“It goes to the very nature and legitimacy of this thing. With John Roberts not showing up, the chief justice not being here,” Paul said. “I think this is an illegitimate process, from top to bottom.”
Paul said he did not expect to stop the trial, but was adamant about showing it to be an illegitimate, political exercise.
“Today, if I don’t say anything, Republicans and Democrats will agree by unanimous consent to install a Democrat to preside over this proceeding. An illegitimate proceeding with an illegitimate Democrat overseeing it. So I’m going to object to that and call out the double standard,” Paul said.
“And I don’t think we’ll win,” he added. “The Democrats will win. But I’ll force them to vote on it. My hope is I get 40 Republicans to vote with me.”
“If I do, that shows they don’t have the votes to impeach at that point. And so basically, the trial is over,” Paul said. “They can go through the manipulations, but if 40 of us vote that this is an unconstitutional use of the impeachment power, then they’re done.
“They can do whatever they want. But we will show them. If I don’t do this, our leadership will acquiesce with Schumer. There will be no votes. And they will go through the whole trial, as if this sham is actually a real impeachment. So I do say, we do to have fight them.”
Instead of doing the nation’s work with their new majorities in the House, Senate and Executive Branch, Democrats are wasting the nation’s time on a partisan vendetta against a man no longer in office. It’s almost as if they have no ability to exist except in opposition to Trump
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 26, 2021
If we are about to try to impeach a President - where is the Chief Justice?
If the accused is no longer President - where is the constitutional power to impeach him?
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 26, 2021
Or, as Paul said in an Op-Ed for The Hill: “This so-called impeachment is a farce and should be dismissed before it is even allowed to begin.”