Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Tuesday afternoon celebrated the 55-45 vote in the U.S. Senate on whether to proceed with the impeachment of former President Donald Trump, saying that given the fact that 45 Republicans voted against proceeding showed that trial was “dead on arrival.”
While the vote paved the way for former President Donald Trump’s impeachment to proceed on a constitutional basis, Paul insisted during an interview on Fox News that the process was still unconstitutional and pointed out that Chief Justice John Roberts was a no-show. However, Roberts is not constitutionally required to preside over the trial because Trump is no longer president. That responsibility falls on the president of the Senate.
Under the Constitution, the vice president serves as the president of the Senate and presides over the Senate’s daily proceedings. In the absence of the vice president, the Senate’s president pro tempore (and others designated by the vice president) presides.
But Paul falsely claimed that Roberts didn’t show up because the constitution “doesn’t allow” for the impeachment of a former president.
“We put forward a motion that said that basically, you can’t impeach a private individual. You can impeach a president, but this is why the chief justice didn’t show up. If it was the president, the chief justice shows up. The fact that the chief justice wouldn’t come and refused to come means that this is a private citizen, but the Constitution doesn’t allow for impeachment of a private citizen,” Paul said. “So, we put this issue forward, but the most important takeaway from the issue is they don’t have the votes to convict. We have 45 people, 45 Republican senators say that the whole — the whole charade is unconstitutional.
Of course, Paul’s argument is flawed. It would be like arguing that if someone robs a bank while being the CEO of that bank, he cannot be prosecuted if he has been fired already.
However, Tuesday’s vote was on the proceeding, not on the merit of the charge. Republicans now will be forced to defend the actions of a president that resulted in a deadly insurrection and the murder of a Capitol police officer.