Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a likely contender for the next presidential election in 2024, announced on Wednesday night that he would vote to acquit President Donald Trump in what will be Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial.
The GOP senator said in his announcement that his decision was based on the limited amount of time for the trial, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said will not be held before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
Cotton argued that the Senate “cannot start and conclude a fair trial before the President leaves office next week.”
“Under these circumstances, the Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president,” he asserted. “The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office—not an inquest against private citizens.”
The lawmaker echoed McConnell’s call for the Senate to focus on a peaceful transition to the new administration in wake of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol that Trump incited last week in his fight to overturn the election.
“Congress and the executive branch should concentrate entirely for the next week on conducting a safe and orderly transfer of power,” Cotton said. “After January 20, Congress should get on with the people’s business: improving our vaccination efforts, getting kids back to school, and getting workers back on the job.”
Cotton, who had rejected Trump’s call for GOP lawmakers to refuse to certify the election results, made the announcement several hours after the House impeached Trump in a bipartisan vote for “incitement of insurrection,” marking an unprecedented second impeachment of the President.