Nearly one week after he left office as the President of the United States, Democratic members of Congress are pressing ahead with preparations for the second impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump, saying there is a “compelling” case for Trump to be convicted of inciting an insurrection and arguing that moving forward with a trial is imperative for the country’s healing.
In the midst of it all, the fractures within the Republican Party were evident Sunday as GOP senators appeared split over whether it was constitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a president who had already left office or not.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), one of Trump’s most outspoken GOP critics, stopped short of saying he would vote to convict Trump, while Republican allies of the former president continued to argue that an impeachment trial should be abandoned for the sake of “unity.”
Members of the Republican National Committee also were in a heated debate over the weekend on how to respond to impeachment — and how fiercely to defend Trump, who maintains support among a majority of the 168 committee members, party officials and members said.
House impeachment managers are planning to send an article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, alleging “incitement of insurrection” after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a violent riot that left a Capitol Police officer and four others dead. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the second impeachment trial will start Feb. 9 after reaching a deal with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that will allow the Senate to focus on President Biden’s agenda and also for Trump to put together a defense.
When asked whether the trial’s two-week delay would cost Democrats the little Republican support they had for impeachment, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) balked and said the events of Jan. 6 went far beyond the many other norms Trump had broken in office.
“I can’t imagine how Republican opposition to insurrection would fade over the space of a couple of weeks,” Warren said on CNN’s “Inside Politics” on Sunday. “We’re talking about a president who stood in front of a mob and told them to go to the Capitol and invade, told them to go to the Capitol and stop the lawful business of government so that he could try to stay in the White House. That is so fundamentally wrong. . . . We need accountability, accountability for Donald Trump and accountability for everyone who participated in that insurrection.”
Romney, who clashed frequently with Trump, said there was a “preponderance” of legal opinions that supported moving forward with a trial even though Trump’s term is finished. He said he hoped the impeachment process would be over quickly.