Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, says censuring former President Donald Trump may be better than going through an impeachment trial because it’s clear that most Republicans won’t vote to convict him.
Kaine said Wednesday that Trump won’t be punished through an impeachment trial so he’s consulting with other senators about a possible resolution censuring him for his part in inciting the riot this month at the Capitol.
“I have been talking with a number of my colleagues, a handful, for a couple of weeks about the likelihood that we would fall short on impeachment,” Kaine told reporters Wednesday. “And by doing that, not only will we fall short but we would use time for something that we could be using for Covid, which I think is just so dire right now.”
However Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the chamber’s floor just after Kaine’s remarks that “there will be a trial.”
“We will vote, we will pass judgment,” Schumer said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Wednesday that he hasn’t decided how he’d vote in the impeachment trial even though he voted with most Republicans to declare it unconstitutional. “Well, the trial hasn’t started yet,” he said. “And I intend to participate in that and listen to the evidence.”
In a key test vote Tuesday, just five Republicans voted with Democrats against an attempt by GOP Sen. Rand Paul to declare the proceedings unconstitutional because Trump is now a private citizen.
That vote, Kaine said, showed that there won’t be enough Senate Republicans to convict Trump at the trial’s end, which could allow the chamber to then vote to bar him from ever seeking office again. It would take a two-thirds majority to convict Trump.
“The vote on the Paul motion yesterday was completely clarifying that we’re not going to get near 67,” Kaine said. “So, I think there’s maybe a little more interest now and then could this be an alternative.”
Kaine said a censure resolution, which he hasn’t formally proposed yet, would be a better route than continuing with a trial that threatens to crowd out President Joe Biden’s agenda including another pandemic relief package.
“To do a trial knowing you’ll get 55 votes at the max seems to me to be not the right prioritization of our time,” he said. “Obviously we do a trial, maybe we can do it fast but my top priority is Covid relief and getting the Biden cabinet approved.”
A group of House Republicans previously introduced their own censure resolution, indicating such a measure would likely get bipartisan support.
Tuesday’s vote on Paul’s point of order to declare the trial proceedings unconstitutional came shortly after all 100 senators were sworn in as jurors for the trial.
The Republican senators voting with Democrats were Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Susan Collins of Maine.
That doesn’t necessarily indicate any or all of them would back convicting Trump, although Collins said, “It’s pretty obvious from the vote today that it is extraordinarily unlikely that the president will be convicted.”
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