Today, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul took to the floor of the US Senate to argue against the impeachment of President Trump nearly a month after he left office. The impeachment rests on a hastily drafted single article proffered by the House of Representatives. It counterfactually charges that President Trump incited the riot in the US Capitol on January 6 when a) nothing in President Trump’s speech called anyone to violence or direction action and b) the first breach of police lines at the US Capitol took place over 20 minutes before the President, at the end of his speech, asked his supporters to peacefully march to the Capitol (New Information About the Capitol Riot Demolishes the Media Narrative and Asks Questions That Need To Be Answered note: VIP link).
As I pointed out just a short while ago, a lot of senators are feeling that this is a monumental waste of time that causes disunity in the GOP caucus as well as forcing senators to make a useless and politically charged vote (Mitch McConnell Faces Blowback Over the Impeachment Vote He Helped Engineer). That was the sentiment that was echoed by Senator Paul (I’m beginning to regret making him the butt of so many jokes…but not so much as to really regret it):
Impeachment is for removal from office, and the accused here has already left office,” he argued on the floor earlier in the day, adding that the trial would “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.”
Democrats signaled they would immediately move to kill Paul’s objection, prompting a vote.
To convict Trump, it would require 67 members of the 100-member body. If convicted, Trump could be barred from holding future office with a subsequent majority vote. Paul sought to muster at least 34 votes to signal there are enough senators with constitutional misgivings to secure an acquittal.
Paul did much better than getting one-third of the GOP to agree.
The Senate just voted on my constitutional point of order.
45 Senators agreed that this sham of a “trial” is unconstitutional.
That is more than will be needed to acquit and to eventually end this partisan impeachment process.
This “trial” is dead on arrival in the Senate.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 26, 2021
What this shows is that 45 senators have declared the proceedings to be unconstitutional. While a lot of legal theorists with an inflated self-image have gone to great lengths to declare that hounding a man who is out of office to limit his political influence and to exact personal vengeance is well within the norms of the American political tradition, nearly half of the Senate disagrees.
This vote sets a ceiling on the number of votes the pro-vengeance side can get. Some number of the 55 senators who see this kangaroo court as legitimate will vote to acquit if they are able to comprehend the timeline of events on January 6.