Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday against moving forward with Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial, making clear a conviction of the former president for "incitement of insurrection" is unlikely. In a 55-45 procedural vote, the Senate set aside an objection from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul that would have declared the impeachment proceedings unconstitutional, the AP reports. That means the trial on Trump's impeachment, the first ever of a former president, will begin as scheduled the week of Feb. 8. Democrats rejected GOP arguments that the trial is not legitimate, pointing to an 1876 impeachment of a secretary of war who had already resigned and to opinions by many legal scholars.
The senators took oaths Tuesday to ensure "impartial justice" as jurors in the trial. Yet the support of 45 Republicans for declaring the trial invalid indicates that there are long odds for Trump's conviction, which would require the support of all Democrats and 17 Republicans, or two-thirds of the Senate. While most Republicans criticized Trump shortly after the attack, many of them have rushed to defend him in the trial, showing the former president's enduring sway over the GOP. The Hill reports that the five Republicans who voted against declaring the proceedings unconstitutional were Sens. Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, Pat Toomey, and Susan Collins. (On Monday, the nine House Democrats prosecuting the case carried the impeachment charge across the Capitol.)