Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are privately floating a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump to their colleagues as most Republicans signal Trump’s likely acquittal in his second impeachment trial, according to Axios on Tuesday.
On Tuesday afternoon, only five Republicans — Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) — joined with all the Democratic senators to vote that the Senate impeachment trial is constitutional and should proceed.
Although the Democrats and the five Republicans effectively killed the procedural motion as expected, the majority of Republicans’ vote declaring the trial is unconstitutional makes the chances of Trump’s conviction highly unlikely, given how 12 of those Republicans would have to reverse their positions to convict Trump.
Kaine and Collins view the bipartisan censure resolution they are pitching to colleagues as another pathway to officially condemn Trump for his incitement of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol earlier this month.
However, according to Axios, some Democrats are interested in taking up the censure resolution on the condition that at least 10 Republican senators publicly voice their support for it, which would meet the 60-vote margin needed to pass legislation in the Senate.
Axios noted that it’s unclear whether a censure resolution would be in lieu of or come after a trial, but that Kaine and Collins have expressed interest in it for weeks and have repeatedly discussed it.
The censuring of a president after leaving office would be an unprecedented vote.
After casting her vote earlier Tuesday in favor of allowing the Senate impeachment trial to proceed, Collins admitted to reporters that “it’s pretty obvious” that it’s “extraordinarily unlikely” that Trump will be convicted in light of most Republicans siding with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who declared the trial to be unconstitutional.
Kaine has indicated that the Biden administration’s agenda and COVID-19 relief should be the priority early on in the President’s term, and therefore is in favor of a speedy trial or another means to officially hold Trump accountable for inciting his supporters ahead of the Capitol riots.