Democratic senators on Sunday outlined how the chamber plans to address President Trump’s second impeachment trial, while Republican House members criticized the president in the wake of the deadly Capitol riot.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he would not whip votes in his caucus during the trial, saying he thought it was too important of an act to apply pressure to members to convict.
“When it comes to an issue of this gravity and constitutional importance, members really have to follow their own conscience,” Durbin told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “It isn’t a matter of saying, ‘well, the team has to all vote together.'”
“[I]n terms of arm-twisting, when it comes to impeachment, you just don’t do that,” he added.
The Senate is set to hold Trump’s impeachment trial at a time to officially be determined. The move is unprecedented, both as the first time a president has been impeached twice and the first time a trial has occurred after a president leaves office. While any potential conviction would occur after Trump is no longer president, it would also prevent the president from seeking office again.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” addressed his colleague Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) argument that a post-presidency conviction would be unconstitutional.
“We just had a president of the United States try to undermine the peaceful transition of power. Try to challenge a fair and free election, and him and his agents, in the moments before from his son to his lawyer, whipping up a crowd to go attack the Capitol,” Booker told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “So, I believe fundamentally the Senate has an obligation to act.”
“You need the Republican leader to cooperate in terms of time agreements. But I fully expect it to happen as quickly as possible. And I think what else is going to happen is that we’re going to be able to do a lot of things at once. I think we should,” added Booker. “If we can get the time agreements from our Republican leader, we can actually hold impeachment trials as well as do other urgently critical things like getting key national security personnel confirmed as well.”
GOP consultant Karl Rove, meanwhile, suggested that if the president’s defense is led by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, the Senate would be more likely to vote to convict.
“I think it’s all going to boil down to what the president’s defense is,” Rove said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding “Rudy Giuliani charted a very bad course in the morning papers.”