Tim Kaine to Drop Attempt at Censuring Donald Trump Over Lack of Support

Senator Tim Kaine announced he is dropping the bipartisan effort to censure former President Donald Trump due to a lack of support.

Kaine, a Democrat, and Republican Senator Susan Collins drafted a proposal to formally denounce Trump after a conviction in his second impeachment trial seemed unlikely. Only five Republican senators, including Collins, voted not to dismiss the trial, leaving the Democrats 12 votes short of gaining a conviction.

However, Kaine revealed on Tuesday that the censure effort does not have enough support from either Republicans and Democrats.

"We don't have enough support on the Republican side because they don't want to bar Trump from running from office," Kaine said.

"I don't have enough support on the Democratic side because for most of my colleagues, it's impeachment or nothing," he added.

Some Democrats hinted they would only be interested in the bipartisan proposal if at least 10 GOP senators publicly committed to the censure, ensuring the 60-vote margin required to pass the legislation in the chamber. But the majority of the party has been reluctant to pivot to an impeachment alternative.

"I'm very worried about going through this trial and having the punch line at the end being Trump acquitted again," Kaine said on Tuesday. "That's why we put this alternative on the table. We think it has meaningful consequences, but where it is right now, we're not going to file it until we see a path to success."

"We'll get into the trial. My hope is, maybe Republicans will see some evidence in the trial where they'll say, 'Even if I'm not voting to convict, this is repulsive,'" he added. "Maybe some Democrats will say, 'Boy, we're not going to get the votes to convict. We need to come up with something else.' So, the idea's on the table."

After last week's vote, Collins said, "I think it's pretty obvious from the vote today, that it is extraordinarily unlikely that the president will be convicted. Just do the math."

Tim Kaine
Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, speaks during a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on Capitol Hill on September 24, 2020. Kaine announced on Tuesday that he would be dropping his censure effort against former President Donald Trump for the time being. Pool

The resolution that Kaine and Collins had been considering introducing on the Senate floor this week, would declare the January 6 storming of the Capitol as an insurrection against the Constitution.

It finds that Trump "gave aid and comfort" to the rioters by "repeatedly lying about the election, slandering election officials, pressuring others to come to Washington for a wild event and encouraging them to come up to Congress."

Although usually censures are mostly symbolic, Kaine previously suggested that if Trump was found to have violated the 14th Amendment, he could be barred from holding office again.

"This is an alternative that would impose, in my view, a similar consequence but it does not require a trial and it does not require a two-thirds vote," Kaine said last week.

A censure vote could have proved more difficult for Republicans because unlike in an impeachment conviction, they wouldn't be able to rely on the argument that the resolution is unconstitutional. It would have also been the first time a president has been censured after leaving office.

Newsweek reached out to Kaine for further comment but did not hear back before publication.