Political opponents influenced a Republican from Louisiana to betray the previous president by allowing a second impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) controversially voted there was nothing in the Constitution to stop former President Donald Trump from answering the so-called charge of inciting insurrection.
The final tally of 56–44 means the Senate can proceed with calling witnesses to testify about whether to impeach President Trump a second time even though his first term ended back on Jan. 20.
Other GOP members who wanted to impeach the former president a second time include Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.), and Pat Toomey (Pa.).
Why Cassidy switched sides
“We heard arguments from both sides on the constitutionality of having a Senate trial of a president who has since left office,” he said on Twitter. “A sufficient amount of evidence of constitutionality exists for the Senate to proceed with the trial.”
Cassidy’s remarks surprised many GOP supporters since the senator had earlier joined 44 fellow party members in supporting Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) motion to oppose convicting the former president.
The senator revealed he betrayed President Trump because Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and his Democrat-led team of impeachment managers had convinced him to do so.
“The House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments [while] the president’s team did not,” he said. “If anyone disagrees with my vote and would like an explanation, I ask them to listen to the arguments presented by the House managers and former President Trump’s lawyers.”
Although Cassidy admitted he was disloyal to the former Republican Party president, he did not rule out voting against convicting President Trump.
May nor convict the former president
“This vote is not a prejudgment on the final vote to convict,” he said.
Mainstream media recently speculated Republicans’ overwhelming support for Trump shows the previous president continues to command respect from fellow Republicans and still has a lot of influence.
“[This] also demonstrated the continued sway Trump holds over GOP officeholders, even after his exit from the White House,” Washington Post national politics reporter Mike DeBonis and White House reporter Seung Min Kim wrote.
Democrats don’t have two-thirds to convict
The Democrats only attracted 55 votes to block Paul’s bid to skip holding an impeachment trial, suggesting there could be a speedy acquittal.
“It is one of the few times in Washington where a loss is actually a victory,” Paul said, according to Reuters. “Forty-five votes means the impeachment trial is dead on arrival.”
Reuters agrees the former president is likely to be acquitted if the Democratic Party fails to entice enough Republicans to find him guilty of the so-called incitement of insurrection.
“The Democratic-led Senate blocked the motion in a 55-45 vote but only five Republican lawmakers joined Democrats to reject the move. That is far short of the 17 Republicans who would need to vote to convict Trump on an impeachment charge that he incited the Jan. 6 Capitol assault that left five people dead,” the media outlet said.
If Senate Democrats fail to impeach the former president a second time, they are unlikely to have the opportunity to prevent Trump from standing for election again in 2024.