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Republicans lambasted Democrats on Sunday for going through with the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump — calling it unconstitutional and a “partisan farce” and saying there’s “zero chance” Trump will be convicted.
Sen. Rand Paul was asked on “Fox News Sunday” about the likelihood of Trump being convicted in the Senate trial over his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which is set to kick off on Tuesday.
“Zero chance of conviction,” said the Kentucky Republican of the trial that begins Tuesday. “Forty-five Republicans have said it’s not even a legitimate proceeding so it’s really over before it starts.”
He was referring to the 45 Republican senators — including Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell — who voted in support of his motion last month to dismiss the impeachment trial on grounds it is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office.
Because Democrats hold a slight majority in the 50-50 split Senate by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, they would need 17 Republicans to cross the aisle and vote to convict Trump.
Paul also noted that Trump was within his First Amendment rights when he addressed a crowd of supporters before the attack on the Capitol that led to the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer.
“People are going to have to judge for themselves … are we going to potentially prosecute people for political speech?” Paul questioned.
He said if that becomes the case and speech is criminalized, then Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, could be impeached over their fiery rhetoric against Trump, his allies, as well as the lawmakers who stirred up protesters last summer.
“If we’re going to criminalize speech, and somehow impeach everybody who says, ‘Go fight to hear your voices heard,’ I mean really we ought to impeach Chuck Schumer then,” Paul said on Fox News. “He went to the Supreme Court, stood in front of the Supreme Court and said specifically, ‘Hey, Gorsuch, Hey, Kavanaugh, you’ve unleashed a whirlwind. And you’re going to pay the price.’”
Bruce Castor, one of Trump’s impeachment lawyers, said he plans on showing how Democrats called for protesters to act during last summer’s Black Lives Matter unrest across the country following George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
“If my eyes look a little red to the viewers, it’s because I’ve been looking at a lot of videos,” he told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Friday evening.
“There’s a lot of tape of cities burning and courthouses being attacked and federal agents being assaulted by rioters in the streets, cheered on by Democrats throughout the country,” Castor said.
The House impeached Trump on Jan. 13 on a single charge of “incitement of an insurrection” for the attack on the Capitol — with 10 Republicans voting alongside Democrats.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s most vocal backers in Congress, said history will judge the former president’s action in the Capitol siege — but the Senate should not.
“Well, I mean, he’s going to have a place in history for all of this, but the point of the matter is that we’re in Congress, we’re not prosecutors. Impeachment was never meant to be a prosecution,” Graham said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
“I think I’m ready to move on, I’m ready to end the impeachment trial because I think it’s blatantly unconstitutional,” Graham added.
“As to Donald Trump, he is the most popular figure in the Republican Party. He had a consequential presidency. Jan. 6 was a very bad day for America, and he’ll get his share of blame in history,” the South Carolina Republican said.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) called the impeachment trial a “partisan exercise” and suggested that there might be another way to punish the former president.
“If being held accountable means being impeached by the House and being convicted by the Senate, the answer to that is no,” Wicker said on ABC News’ “This Week.” “Now if there are other ways in the court of public opinion or if there’s some criminal charge … dawns on some prosecutor, perhaps, there’s another avenue there.”
Host George Stephanopoulos asked Wicker if he sees a difference in impeaching former President Bill Clinton for lying about a sexual affair with a White House aide.
“I’m not conceding that President Trump incited an insurrection,” Wicker responded.
“Let me say this. Republicans learned a lot from the impeachment of President Clinton. President Clinton had been adjudged to have committed perjury by a judge in the state of Arkansas. Perjury is a felony under the law of every state. And that was the controlling principle that brought me to a yes vote,” he said.