In what is likely to happen more regularly, Sen. Lisa Murkowski once again broke with most of her Republican colleagues and voted, Jan. 26th, to proceed with an impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump.
Sen. Rand Paul raised a constitutional point of order against the entire notion that Congress has the constitutional power to impeach a president who is no longer in office. His procedural motion was voted down 55 to 45 with Murkowski and four other Republicans joining all the Democrats.
Sen. Paul said impeachment was intended to remove a sitting president from office, not to punish a private citizen.
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“Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office,” Paul said just before the vote. “Hyperpartisan 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.”
Trump’s political opponents, however, are pushing for impeachment to ensure that he can never run for office again.
In joining the Democrats to press forward, Murkowski indicated that she was unsure if the Senate even had the power to impeach a former president, but said she wanted to have a chance to fully debate the Constitutional grounds. She said her vote to proceed with the trial “affords members of the Senate the opportunity to thoughtfully consider this weighty institutional issue.”
The trial is set to begin Feb. 9 but Tuesday’s 55-45 vote is a strong indication that Democrats do do not have the numbers to convict Trump. It takes 67 votes to convict, which is two-thirds of the Senate.