U.S. senators on Sunday remained divided over convicting former President Donald Trump, whose impeachment trial begins Tuesday, while some House members who voted to impeach Trump said the chamber must hold him accountable for the attacks on the U.S. Capitol.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump on Jan. 13, adopting the single charge of "incitement of insurrection" following the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob.
Members of Congress cited Trump's incendiary language to supporters the morning of the attacks, in which five people died during the assault or immediately afterward, as members of Congress were voting to certify the presidential election results.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), one of 10 Republican House members who joined with Democrats to impeach Trump, said the Republican Party must not "look past" Trump's actions. In her first interview since beating back a challenge Wednesday from House colleagues to remove her from their caucus' leadership, Cheney addressed the impeachment trial on "Fox News Sunday."
"We've had a situation where President Trump claimed for months that the election was stolen and apparently set about to do everything he could to steal it himself, and that ended up in an attack on the Capitol, five people killed that day. That's the kind of attack that can never happen again," she said.
"What we already know does constitute the gravest violation of his oath of office by any president in the history of the country," Cheney said. "And this is not something that we can simply look past or pretend didn't happen or try to move on. We've got to make sure this never happens again."
Never before has a U.S. president been impeached twice, or faced Senate conviction as a former president.
It would take a two-thirds vote of the U.S. Senate to convict the former president. If he is convicted, 51 senators must vote to disqualify Trump from holding office in the future.
"I will listen to both sides and be objective," Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
He continued, "We will consider the evidence as impartial jurors."
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Sunday: "This was an effort to overturn an election, in and of itself an unconstitutional endeavor. This was a crowd of tens of thousands of people. The president had access to intelligence to tell him that there were individuals there who were intending to storm the Capitol. And then, once again while the attack was happening, the president had the ability to turn them around and he didn't."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," said he did not believe it was constitutional to try a former president.
But he said Trump would be held accountable for his actions in history books.
"He's going to have a place in history for all this, but the point of the matter is that we're in Congress. We’re not prosecutors. Impeachment is never meant to be a prosecution," Graham said.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," recalled the trauma of last month's attacks.
"As a Black woman, to be barricaded in my office, using office furniture and water bottles, on the ground, in the dark, that terror, those moments of terror, is familiar in a deep and ancestral way for me," she said. "And I want us to do everything to ensure that a breach like this never occurs at the Capitol, but I want us to address the evil and scourge that is white supremacy in this nation."