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U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz joined with most of their Republican colleagues on Tuesday to support a measure that would have declared the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump as unconstitutional.
Ultimately, senators tabled the measure and the second impeachment trial of Trump continued on into the afternoon, but the exercise served as a possible litmus test of where senators stand on the question of whether the former president should be convicted in the Senate of inciting a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.
The point of order, raised by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, had the backing of most other Republican senators. Even so, five Republicans joined with Democrats to successfully table the measure and move forward with the trial. Paul's challenge pertained to whether it is Constitutional to impeach an official who has already left office.
Nearly two weeks ago, the U.S. House impeached the then-president, charging him with inciting a deadly mob to attack the U.S. Capitol in order to stop a ceremonial counting of the electoral votes certifying Joe Biden as the new president. Supporters of Trump overtook the Capitol — including the U.S. Senate chamber — and killed one Capitol Police officer.
The House impeachment managers — de facto prosecutors — will have to convince at least 17 Republican senators to join the expected unanimous Democratic vote in convicting Trump. U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, a San Antonio Democrat, is among the members U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed to serve as an impeachment manager.
Senators spent the day voting on the rules of the trial. The trial arguments are expected to begin the week of Feb. 8.