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Six Republicans join Democrats to move ahead with impeachment vote

The U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday to proceed with what many consider an unconstitutional impeachment of former President Donald Trump. The vote, however, was more important for signaling that Democrats do not have the 17 Republicans needed for it to succeed. Just six Republicans joined Democrats in the procedural vote making the final tally 56-44. All Democrats voted in favor.

Republican Pat Toomey (Pa.), Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Mitt Romney (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.), voted with Democrats and against a majority of Americans who in a poll do not favor impeachment. The trial will now begin Wednesday around Noon Central Time.

Political analysts say the impeachment will fail and presents a greater risk for Democrats than Republicans. The Senate needs 67 votes to convict which would require a seemingly insurmountable 17 Republicans to join Democrats. That’s unlikely given video of Trump encouraging protesters on Jan. 6 to peacefully march to the Capitol. Nowhere, say his defenders, did he encourage a violent assault on Congress.

Meanwhile, the relative lack of GOP support suggests that the impeachment trial is doomed to fail. The upper chamber requires 67 votes to convict a president, meaning that at least 17 Republicans would have to split with their party to join Democrats.

“The Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) previously said in a statement. “The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office — not an inquest against private citizens.”

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, in an op-ed, questioned the validity of the Democrat argument by contrasting it with Trump’s strong rhetoric with the words and actions of Democrat members of Congress in recent years.

“If that’s the new standard—and if strong rhetoric constitutes ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors’—then Congress better prepare to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and former Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., next,” Cruz wrote.

“Repeatedly over the past four years, multiple Democrats have engaged in incendiary rhetoric and encouraged civil unrest, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi who expressly compared law enforcement to Nazis, Rep. Waters, who emphatically encouraged a campaign of intimidation and harassment of political opponents, Sen. Schumer, who made threats—by name—to “release the whirlwind” against two sitting justices of the Supreme Court, and then-Sen. Harris, who actively campaigned to provide financial support, in the form of bail, for rioters last summer even after hundreds of law enforcement officers were injured and many people, including retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn, were brutally murdered.”

Cruze stated that Democrats had “no coherent rationale that renders President Trump’s remarks ‘incitement,’ and somehow exonerates the angry rhetoric of countless Democrats.”

The impeachment trial could last into the end of next week.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice