As senators were sworn in for President Trump’s second impeachment trial on Tuesday, for incitement of insurrection, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wasted no time trying to scrap the process. Paul forced a vote on whether the impeachment of a former president, now a private citizen, is constitutional. (Many reputable legal scholars and historians agree that it is.) All 50 Democrats and five Republicans—Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Pat Toomey (Penn.)—voted against the measure, while 45 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted to dismiss the impeachment case and have no trial.
McConnell’s vote in particular may have seemed a surprise: Describing the Capitol insurrection on the Senate floor on January 19, he stated, “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the President and other powerful people.” The New York Times reported earlier this month that McConnell privately supported impeachment. Still, he has refused to state publicly where he stands on impeachment.
Tuesday’s vote suggested an uphill climb for the two-thirds majority needed to vote to convict Trump. Even after an attack on the Capitol that left five people dead, Republicans seem as unlikely as ever to take a stand against Donald Trump.