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Senate tables effort to declare Trump impeachment trial unconstitutional

The Senate voted 55-45 on Tuesday to set aside a motion by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to declare the impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump unconstitutional. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI
The Senate voted 55-45 on Tuesday to set aside a motion by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to declare the impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump unconstitutional. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The Senate voted Tuesday to dismiss an effort to declare the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump unconstitutional.

Lawmakers voted 55-45 to set aside a motion by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., which sought to declare the second impeachment trial against Trump -- in which he faces charges for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol -- is unconstitutional because he is out of office.

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"I make a point of order that this proceeding which would try a private citizen and not a president, a vice president or civil officer violates the Constitution and is not in order," Paul said.

He also offered objection to the fact that Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, would preside over the trial.

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"The presiding officer is not the chief justice nor does he claim to be," Paul said. "His presence in the chief justice absence demonstrates that this is not a trial of the president but a private citizen."

Paul also said he wanted every member in the Senate "on record" regarding their stance on the constitutionality of the trial.

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The measure was supported by most Republicans in the chamber, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. But five members of the GOP, Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, joined the chamber's 50 Democrats in opposing the motion.

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Romney said that "the preponderance of opinion with regards to the constitutionality of a trial of impeachment of a former president is saying that it is a constitutional process."

Murkowski also expressed her belief that the trial is constitutional.

"My review of it has led me to conclude that it is constitutional in recognizing that impeachment is not solely about removing a president, it is also a matter of political consequence," she said.

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Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., noted that Paul failed to acknowledge that the Constitution allows for both the "removal of office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office honor" through impeachment.

"The language is crystal clear without any ambiguity," Schumer said. "The history and precedent is clear. The Senate has the power to try former officials and the reasons for that are basic common sense."

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