President Joe Biden insisted on Monday, Jan. 25, that the impeachment trial against his predecessor Donald Trump, who is now a private citizen, has to take place even as Biden doubts the Senate trial would gather enough votes to convict him.
“I think it has to happen,” Biden said in an off-camera interview with CNN in the halls of the West Wing, offering his most extensive comments on the impeachment trial since taking office.
Biden said there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen,” though he acknowledged the trial could have an effect on his legislative agenda and Cabinet nominees.
Biden, however, did not expect the trial would convict because it is unlikely the Senate get 17 Republican senators to join all 50 Democrats to form a two-thirds majority necessary to convict the former Republican president.
So far, several Republican senators have been seen as likely to vote for the impeachment trial against former President Trump who was accused of inciting a crowd to attack the Capitol Building on Jan. 6 when Congress met to certify the electoral votes. According to The Hill, Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) believe the former president likely committed impeachable offenses, while Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) publicly blamed him for inciting the riot.
Earlier on Monday, the House impeachment managers delivered the article of impeachment to the Senate.
A number of Republican senators have argued publicly that the Senate lacks jurisdiction to try a private citizen.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called the impeachment trial an “unconstitutional sham” and said he “will force a vote on whether the Senate can hold a trial of a private citizen.”
Republicans should reject any process that involves a partisan Democrat in the chair instead of the Chief Justice.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 25, 2021
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ariz.) echoed Paul, saying “a Senate impeachment trial of a private citizen is beyond the Constitution’s authority.”
On Special Report, @SenTomCotton says a Senate impeachment trial of a private citizen is beyond the Constitution’s authority.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) January 25, 2021
The Hill also reported that Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), not Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, will preside over the Senate trial, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 8.
In a remark to Fox News last week, Sen. Rand Paul said, “If the Chief Justice does not appear, the Constitution said he should appear for the impeachment of the President, if the chief justice isn’t coming, I think it’s an illegitimate procedure, and it isn’t a real impeachment, it’s going to be a fake, partisan impeachment.”