WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats on Sunday vowed to move quickly with a second impeachment trial for outgoing President Donald Trump, making the case that the U.S. Senate can split its duties between a trial and scheduling votes on President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), one of the lead impeachment managers tapped to argue the case against Trump before the Senate, defended the decision to proceed with impeachment despite Trump leaving office before the start of a trial.
Raskin, appearing on CNN’s "State of the Union" described Trump’s role in the deadly Jan. 6 siege on Congress by his supporters as "the most serious presidential crime in the history of the United States of America."
"I don't think anybody would seriously argue that we should establish a precedent where every president on the way out the door has two weeks, or three weeks, or four weeks, to try to incite an armed insurrection against the union or organize a coup against the union, and, if it succeeds, he becomes a dictator, and, if it fails, he's not subject to impeachment or conviction because we just want to let bygones be bygones," Raskin said.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), told NBC’s "Meet the Press" it was possible for the Senate to "hold impeachment trials, as well as do other urgently critical things, like getting key national security personnel confirmed as well."
"We need to do both at the same time," Booker said. "I can't think of a president in my lifetime that came to power with so many challenges, and I think the American people have a right to expect that we can work on a lot of different fronts, from an economic recession to a pandemic to national security threats, as well as holding a president accountable who persistently lied to the American people, whipped up far right-wing extremists and incited a riot, an assault and a siege on the United States Capitol."
Last Wednesday, 232 members of the U.S. House, including 10 Republicans, voted to impeach Trump making him the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. He was charged with "incitement of insurrection" after a violent mob citing Trump’s unfounded claims of a stolen election stormed the Capitol building looking to stop the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), a freshman lawmaker who broke party ranks to vote for impeachment, defended his vote on ABC’s "This Week," saying the events of Jan. 6 were a "culmination of a politics that had all too often fanned flames rather than focusing on building and governing."
"I want to make sure that we have leaders in office who are focusing on, you know, the fact that we're a nation of laws, not men, and that we're putting the interest of the country first rather than their own political careers," Meijer said.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), one of nine impeachment managers selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to argue the case for impeachment before the Senate, acknowledged the "high bar" of persuading 17 Republicans to vote for impeachment to reach the Senate’s two-thirds threshold for impeachment.
"Our plan is to go after every single vote," Castro said on "This Week."
So far, a dozen Senate Republicans have publicly declared their willingness to hear out the impeachment case against Trump, according to a Washington Post analysis. The number is a departure from the solid bloc of Republicans who last January voted against convicting Trump on two impeachment charges tied to his urging Ukraine to open a politically motivated investigation into Biden.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said the decision for when to transmit the article of impeachment to the Senate for a trial rests with Pelosi, but noted that lawmakers "have a responsibility to act as quickly as possible."
Durbin, appearing on CNN’s "State of the Union," said he could not guarantee that Democrats will unanimously vote in favor of impeachment. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Tim Kaine of Virginia are among a small group of Democrats who have raised misgivings about impeaching Trump.
"When it comes to an issue of this gravity and constitutional importance, members really have to follow their own conscience. It isn't a matter of saying, ‘come on, the team has to all vote together,’ " Durbin said.