Growing number of GOP senators oppose impeachment trial
WASHINGTON (AP) – An rising number of Republican senateurs are claiming that they should not face trial for impeachment, an indication of dimming prospects for the prosecution of former President Donald Trump on charges of inciting a siege of the United States.
House Democrats, who will be indicting the Senate on Monday night for "incitement of insurgency," expect that after the Jan. 6 uproar the heavy Republican claims against Trump will result in a conviction and separate vote against Trump.
Yet GOP tensions seem to have diminished after the uprising, and now that Trump's election is over, Republican senators who will participate as jurors at the trial are rallying in support of his interests, as they did at their first trial last year.
"I believe that trial is dumb, I believe it is counterproductive," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
He said for "the first time, I'll be able to vote to end this trial" because he feels the world will be poor and party tensions will be inflamed.
Arguments in the trial in the Senate will be opened on February 8. Leaders in both parties decided on a limited period to give Trump's staff and the House prosecuters a lot time to plan, and the Senate will be given an opportunity to confirm any of President Joe Biden's nominations in the office.
An early vote to withdraw the trial is certainly not successful because Democrats currently dominate the Senate. However, the Republican opposition points out that more GOP senators will ultimately vote to acquit Trump.
As on January 13, one week after the siege, the House impeached Trump, Sen. Tom Cotton, Ark., told him he could not imagine it had the legislative right to indict Trump after he went off office. Cotton said on Sunday "the more I speak to the other Republican senators, the more they start to line up."
"I think it's odd that many Americans think the Senate spends its time trying to convince a man who had left office a week ago and remove it from office," said Cotton.
Democrats deny this claim, referring to the 1876 impeachment of a war minister who has resigned and views of various legal experts. Democrats also argue that the first invasion of the capital by rioters from the 1812 war of a president who called him "fight like hell" against the outcome of elections which at that time are considered appropriate.
Few GOP senators agreed with Democrats, but not close to the amount required for Trump to be prosecuted.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said he agreed that a "opinion" is acceptable when a person leaves office.
"I believe that what is supposed and what we have seen, the insurrection incitement, is a reproachable offense," said Romney. "If not, what is it?"
But Romney, the only Republican who voted for Trump when he was convicted by the Senate in the trial last year, is an outlier.
The R-S.D. Sen. Mike Rounds said that when a presidential term is over, a prosecution is thought to be a "moot point." "I think it's one that they would have a very difficult time trying in the Senate."
And Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, tweeted on Saturday: "What about former Democratic Presidents when republicans gather the majority in 2022, if it's a good idea to prosecute and try former Presidents? Let's think about it and do whatever is best for this country."
On Friday, GOP senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close friend of Trump who helped him create a legal team, encouraged the Senate to condemn the concept of a post-presidential mechanism – possibly by voting to reject the accusation – and proposed that Republicans investigate whether the words of Trump on January 6 were constitutionally "incitation."
Sen. John Barrasso, R., said Democrats have sent a warning that Donald Trump's hate and vitriol is so intense they will conduct a trial which will keep the political interests of Biden from being shifted. Sen. Ron Johnson, R. Wis., said Democrats prefer the 'security' of national defense when the new President attempts to create his government.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who last week said that Trump was "provoking" his followers before the controversy, did not elaborate on how he would vote or advocate about any legal tactic.
One of Chamber Speaker Nancy Pelosi's nine impeachment administrators said "an extraordinarily heinous presidential crime." was Trump's support to his loyalists before the riot.
"I think you can see how we're going to bring together a case so compelling, because the facts and the law reveal what this president has done," said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa.
Just two and a half weeks earlier the President attracted an audience on the Ellipse of the White House.
In his words, he encouraged them.
So he lit up the play."
Trump's followers stormed the Capitol and halted the electoral count, alleging that major bribery took place at the election and was robbed by Biden.
In trials, even by Trump's judges and state election officers, Trump's arguments were firmly denied.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, Sen. Chris Coons D-Del. said that he hoped that evolving clarification on the specifics of what had transpired Jan. 6 would make "more clear to my colleagues and the American public that we need some accountability."
Coon asked if his peers who were in the Capitol could see the uprising as anything but "a stunning violation" of the centuries-old practice of orderly power transfers.
"It's a critical moment in American history and we must look at it and look hard at it," said Coons.
Rubio and Romney were on 'Fox News Sunday,' Cotton was on 'Sunday morning futures' for Fox News Channel, and Romney, like Dean, also was on CNN's 'State of the Nation.'
Rounds were interviewed at "Meet the Press" by NBC.
This article was sponsored by Associated Press writer Hope Yen.