Just 5 Republicans Vote Not to Dismiss Second Impeachment Trial, Stifling Trump Conviction Chances

As impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump continue in the Senate this week, five Republican senators voted not to dismiss the trial.

Senators Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania joined the Senate's 50 Democratic senators in a vote to table GOP Senator Rand Paul's motion to dismiss the impeachment trial.

In a 55 to 45 vote, Republicans rallied against moving forward with the impeachment trial for his role in inciting the Capitol riot. The overwhelming support from the party strongly suggests that the Senate will not have the votes required to convict Trump.

Paul triggered the Senate vote on Tuesday afternoon, arguing that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is now out of office.

"Impeachment is for removal from office and the accused here has already left office. Hyperpartisan Democrats are about to drag our great country into the gutter of rancor and vitriol the likes of which has never been seen in our nation's history," Paul told reporters ahead of the vote.

Mitt Romney
GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah heads to the floor of the Senate on January 26. Romney joined four other GOP senators in voting not to dismiss Trump's impeachment trial on Tuesday. Samuel Corum/Stringer

Some Republicans have argued that putting Trump on trial, now that he is technically a private citizen, would be beyond the Senate's jurisdiction, although the chamber has previously held impeachment trials for other officials who had left already office.

Earlier this month, Trump was impeached for the second time by the House of Representatives after falsely claiming that he won the 2020 presidential election to a crowd of supporters. Congress moved forward with an article of impeachment after the former president held a rally on January 6 in Washington, D.C., that led to a violent storming of the Capitol, which forced Congress to delay the certification of the results of the election.

Senators still have time to change their views, but Tuesday's vote signals that Trump would likely be acquitted for a second time by the Senate in an impeachment charge.

A Trump conviction would require the support of 67 senators, which means another 12 Republicans—apart from Romney, Collins, Murkowski, Sasse and Toomey—would have to cross party lines to join the Democrats in finding Trump guilty.

Although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has previously said he believes that the former president committed impeachable offences, he voted with the vast majority of the party in dismissing the trial.

On Monday afternoon, it was announced that Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy would preside over the Senate trial. Leahy is the president pro tempore of the Senate, a role given to the longest-serving lawmaker in the majority party. The senator's office told Newsweek that Leahy will not be providing comments to the press from Tuesday through the duration of the trial.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the first impeachment trial, but he is no longer constitutionally obligated to preside now that Trump has left office.

Newsweek also reached out to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for comment but did not hear back before publication.