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Republican Senators Want to Halt Trump Impeachment Trial

'A sham, this is, a travesty, a dark blot on the history of our country...'

(Headline USA) Senators took oaths Tuesday to ensure “impartial justice” as jurors in Donald Trump‘s unconstitutional impeachment trial, after the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol.

But some Republican senators are challenging the legitimacy of the trial and whether Trump’s repeated questioning of the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s election really constitute “incitement of insurrection” in the Jan. 6 riot.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said he plans to force a vote on whether the impeachment trial of a former president is allowed under the Constitution.

“A sham, this is, a travesty, a dark blot on the history of our country,” Paul said in a fiery speech on the Senate floor.

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He called on Senate colleagues to stop this “kangaroo court” and compared the way Trump exhorted supporters outside the White House to past inciteful speeches by Democratic lawmakers, including now-Vice President Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and Calif. Rep. Maxine Waters.

What seemed for some Democrats like an open-and-shut case that played out for the world on live television — as Trump encouraged hundreds of thousands of mostly peaceful supporters to “fight like hell” for his presidency — is running into a Republican Party that feels very differently.

On Monday, the nine House Democrats prosecuting the case against Trump carried the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” across the Capitol in a solemn and ceremonial march along the same halls the rioters ransacked three weeks ago.

In a scene reminiscent of just last year — Trump is the first president twice impeached — the lead House prosecutor, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, stood before the Senate to read the House resolution charging “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

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But Republican denunciations of Trump have cooled since the siege.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked if Congress starts holding impeachment trials of former officials, what’s next: “Could we go back and try President Obama?”

Besides, he suggested, Trump has already been held to account. “One way in our system you get punished is losing an election.”

Arguments in the Senate trial will begin the week of Feb. 8, and the case against Trump, the first former president to face impeachment trial, will test a political party still sorting itself out for the post-Trump era.

For Democrats the tone, tenor and length of the trial so early in Biden’s presidency poses its own challenge, forcing them to strike a balance between their vow to hold Trump accountable and their eagerness to deliver on the new administration’s priorities following their sweep of control of the House, Senate and White House.

Chief Justice John Roberts will not preside at the trial, as he did during Trump’s first impeachment, potentially affecting the gravitas of the proceedings. The shift is an indicator that he believes the process to be unconstitutional.

Instead, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D- Vt., who serves in the largely ceremonial role of Senate president pro tempore and has already strongly advocated for Trump’s conviction, is set to preside.

An early vote to dismiss the trial probably would not succeed, given that Democrats now control the Senate. The House approved the charge against Trump on Jan. 13, with 10 Republicans joining the Democrats.

Mounting Republican opposition to the proceedings indicates that many GOP senators will eventually vote to acquit Trump. Democrats would need the support of 17 Republicans — a high bar — to convict him.

Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.

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