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What Senate Republicans are saying about Trump’s impeachment trial

N.C. Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr

WASHINGTON — The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is set to begin Tuesday, when the Senate will start hearing arguments over whether Trump should be convicted of inciting the violent mob that lay siege to the Capitol.

So far, no Senate Republican has outright backed a vote to convict Trump, and many have questioned whether the Senate should be conducting an impeachment trial of an ex-president.

Nine House Democrats have been tasked as impeachment managers, essentially prosecutors in outlining the case against Trump.

They’ll present that case to a chamber that’s evenly divided among 48 Democrats, two independents who usually vote with them, and 50 Republicans. All but five of the Republicans voted last month to declare the trial unconstitutional.

At least 17 Republican senators would need to join all 48 Democrats and the two independents to convict Trump, a vote that requires a two-thirds majority. Given the overwhelming vote to label the trial unconstitutional, the House impeachment managers appear to have a tough job at hand.

The five Republicans who did not support the procedural motion last month to declare the impeachment trial unconstitutional were Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; Susan Collins of Maine; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Mitt Romney of Utah; and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

In the pretrial briefs, Trump’s attorneys denied that he was responsible for the attack and argued he cannot be tried in the Senate because he has left office. Previewing their arguments, a filing from House Democrats argues that Trump violated his oath of office, and “betrayed the American people.”

The impeachment charge against Trump was passed in the House with support from every Democrat and 10 Republicans.

It’s not yet clear how long the trial will take before senators vote on whether to convict, but it is expected to last through at least the rest of the week.

Here’s what Republican senators and one independent from States Newsroom states have said so far about the impeachment trial, and whether they plan to convict or acquit Trump:

NORTH CAROLINA

Richard Burr:

“This is a civilian now. A charge like this would go to the Justice Department and be referred for prosecution,” Burr said to reporters in the Capitol last month. “Unfortunately, that’s not what they’re doing.”

Thom Tillis:

“On January 6, I said voting to reject the states’ electors was a dangerous precedent we should not set. Likewise, impeaching a former President who is now a private citizen would be equally unwise,” Tillis said in a statement last month. “The impeachment power can be turned into a political weapon, especially if it is primarily used to disqualify an individual citizen from running for public office.”

FLORIDA

Marco Rubio:

“The first chance I get to vote to end this trial, I will do it, because I think it’s really bad for America,” Rubio said last month on “Fox News Sunday.”

Rick Scott:

“This impeachment is nothing more than political theater,” Scott wrote on Twitter. “The Democrats are confusing the U.S. Capitol, where we should be helping the American people, with another big white building in DC that specializes in theater and shows…. the Kennedy Center. It’s time to get back to work.”

IOWA

Chuck Grassley:

“It’s one thing, according to the Constitution, to impeach a president, but can you impeach a citizen?” he said, according to The Daily Iowan. “Because now it’s not President Trump, it’s citizen Trump.”

Joni Ernst:

“My concern right now is that the president is no longer in office,” Ernst said in a statement last month. “Congress would be opening itself to a dangerous standard of using impeachment as a tool for political revenge against a private citizen, and the only remedy at this point is to strip the convicted of their ability to run for future office —–a move that would undoubtedly strip millions of voters of their ability to choose a candidate in the next election.” Read more

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