WASHINGTON (AP) - Senators in Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial have agreed to consider the case, rejecting an attempt by the former president's defense team and some Republican allies to halt the trial because he is no longer in office.
The vote was 56-44 on Tuesday on the question of whether the Senate has jurisdiction and could proceed. It came after four hours of arguments from Trump's lawyers and the Democratic impeachment managers, who are arguing that the former president incited the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
The impeachment managers managed to pick up one additional vote from Republicans - Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy. Two weeks ago, he voted in favor of an effort to dismiss, but on Tuesday he voted with Democrats to move forward. Cassidy joined Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Mitt Romney of Utah in dismissing the Trump team's claims.
Cassidy told reporters earlier that the impeachment managers' arguments were "strong arguments" and it was a "very good opening."
Cassidy said, "I have always said I was approaching this with an open mind."
Senate Republicans had sharp criticism for former President Donald Trump’s lawyers after the opening of his second impeachment trial.
Many said they didn’t understand Trump’s lawyers’ arguments as they sought to persuade the Senate to dismiss the trial on constitutional grounds. Trump was impeached by the House for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
Cassidy, who voted with Democrats to move forward with the trial after voting against them in a similar vote two weeks ago, said Trump’s team did a “terrible job” and was “disorganized,” “random” and “did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand.”
Cassidy released the following statement Tuesday evening after his yes vote on the constitutional jurisdiction to impeach a president no longer in office.
We heard arguments from both sides on the constitutionality of having a Senate trial of a president who has since left office. A sufficient amount of evidence of constitutionality exists for the Senate to proceed with the trial. This vote is not a prejudgment on the final vote to convict. 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. The House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments. The president’s team did not."
Video courtesy CNN shows Cassidy speaking with reporters after the vote:
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