WASHINGTON — Five Republican Senators broke with their party on Tuesday afternoon and voted with Democrats to allow President Trump’s impeachment trial to proceed.
GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky introduced a motion to dismiss the trial, arguing the impeachment proceedings would be unconstitutional since Trump is now a private citizen
But the measure was blocked on a 55-45 vote with GOP Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Hawaii and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is serving his last term, crossing the aisle.
Romney was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump on the abuse of power charge during his previous impeachment trial.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell who has criticized Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 siege on the US Capitol that he is is accused of inciting, nonetheless sided with Paul.
The vote could suggest how lawmakers will vote during Trump’s impeachment trial.
The Senate requires a two-thirds majority to convict, meaning 17 Republicans would need to vote with Democrats — an unlikely outcome.
Ten GOP lawmakers also sided with Democrats to impeach Trump in the House in a 232-197 vote on Jan. 13.
In a fiery speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Paul said Democrats’ calls for unity were hollow and that the impeachment of a former president and private citizen were “the antithesis of unity.”
“Private citizens don’t get impeached; impeachment is for removal from office. And the accused here has already left office,” Paul said.
“Hyper-partisan Democrats are about to drag our great country down into the gutter of rancor and vitriol the likes of which has never been seen in our nation’s history,” he went on.
All 100 Senators were sworn-in on Tuesday afternoon as jurors in Trump’s second impeachment trial which will be overseen by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and not Supreme Court Justice John Roberts since Trump is no longer president.