Washington: US Democrats’ efforts to convict Donald Trump at his impeachment trial suffered a fresh blow Tuesday when almost all Republican senators backed dismissing the case, underlining the former president’s continuing hold over the party.
In all 50 Democrats and only 5 Republicans in the Senate did not support the motion to overturn the case before the trial began.
The results confirmed that Democrats will work hard to persuade 17 Republican senators-those who demand a two-thirds majority-to vote to convict Trump.
Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky raised a procedural issue, calling for a vote on the constitutionality of the impeachment trial after Trump resigns.
The Democratic Party then demanded a vote to kill the program point and won 55-45.
Paul said afterward “that 45 Senators agreed that this sham of a ‘trial’ is unconstitutional… This ‘trial’ is dead on arrival in the Senate.”
Patrick Leahy, the 80-year-old senator presiding over the trial, was briefly hospitalized after Tuesday’s proceedings during which he sounded hoarse and unwell as lawmakers were sworn in as jurors.
“The Attending Physician recommended that he be taken to a local hospital for observation,” his spokesman said. He was released later in the evening.
Leahy, who was elected in 1974, is presiding as he is the senior senator of the party with the majority in the Senate, currently the Democrats.
The House of Representatives on Monday presented a single article of impeachment to the upper chamber accusing Trump of inciting the storming of the Capitol earlier this month, setting in motion the first-ever impeachment trial of a former president.
Trump’s trial will begin in the week of February 8. Trump’s trial is an unprecedented second impeachment by the Democratic majority House.
Trump, who won 74 million votes in the Biden campaign on November 3, is reportedly sitting on about $70 million in campaign funding-hope that Republican senators will consider their future before daring to cross him.
Trump’s main way of exerting pressure during his retirement is to vote for unfaithful lawmakers to support his challengers through party primary elections before the 2022 midterm elections.
Trump on Monday approved the campaign of former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, hoping to become governor of Arkansas. This is the first bending of political power.