Several Republican senators on Sunday discouraged suggestions that the chamber could convict former President Donald Trump in his upcoming impeachment trial.
“Well first of all, I think the trial is stupid,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told “Fox News Sunday.” “I think it’s counterproductive. We already have a flaming fire in this country and [impeachment is] taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top of the fire.”
Rubio added he believes Trump “bears responsibility for some of what happened” during the deadly riots at the Capitol earlier this month but that he does not believe impeachment is the right way to address the matter. He also said it would be “arrogant” to say that Trump should be barred from running for office again.
“The first chance I get to vote to end this trial I will do it because I think it’s bad for America,” he said. “If you want to hold people accountable there’s other ways to do it, particularly for president.”
Rubio said impeachment will “make it harder to get important things done and it’s just going to continue to fuel these divisions that have paralyzed the country and have turned us into a country of people that hate each other.”
Speaking with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., called the impeachment trial “a moot point.”
“Because I think right now Donald Trump is no longer the president, he is former president,” Rounds said, adding he does not believe the impeachment of a former president is constitutionally viable and that a trial will take away from other agenda items for the Senate, including the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet.
A Congressional Research Service report released this week noted that although the Constitution does not explicitly say whether a former president can be impeached, scholars “who have closely examined the question have concluded that Congress has authority to extend the impeachment process to officials who are no longer in office.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Friday that a trial would begin in early February under an agreement struck between Democrats and Republicans. In order to convict the president, at least 17 Republicans would have to join all of the Democrats. If convicted, the Senate could then weigh whether to prohibit Trump from a future bid for office.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has forcefully criticized Trump following the riot, has said he is undecided on whether to convict the former president. Meanwhile, Republicans like McConnell or the handful of House GOP members who voted in favor of convicting Trump have faced heavy backlash from conservatives.
In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., refused to say the election was not stolen from the president — the sentiment that led to the Jan. 6 assault in the first place. For months, Trump and his allies made false claims about widespread voter fraud and other election integrity issues.
Paul pledged to spend the next two years investigating the election and said he “won’t be cowed by liberals in the media who say, there’s no evidence here and you’re a liar if you talk about election fraud.”
On “Meet the Press,” Rounds said that while he believes “the election was fair,” he supports investigating in order to “show it to the American people.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he will decide how to vote in the impeachment trial after he is presented with the case. Romney was the only Republican to vote in favor of Trump’s conviction during his first impeachment trial last year.
He added that he believes it’s “pretty clear” a post-presidential impeachment is constitutional and that it was appropriate for Trump to be impeached by the House.
“I believe that what is being alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable offense,” he said. “If not, what is?”
On “This Week,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., pointed to the 1876 impeachment trial of former Secretary of War William Belknap — who was tried after resigning office — as a precedent for the impeachment trial of a former official.
“I think we’re going to get more and more evidence over the next few weeks — as if it’s not enough that he’s sent an angry mob down [the National Mall] to invade the Capitol, didn’t try to stop it, and a police officer was killed,” Klobuchar said. “I don’t really know what else you need to know. The facts were there. We saw it right there on the platform during the inauguration, as you could still see the spray paint at the bottom of many of the columns.”