Trump censure faces tough odds in Senate

Senators are discussing a long-shot bipartisan effort to censure former President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney: 'Pretty sure' Trump would win 2024 GOP nomination if he ran for president Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee Trump says 'no doubt' Tiger Woods will be back after accident MORE over the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Members of the upper chamber are pitching their colleagues on the idea as it becomes increasingly clear that Trump’s impeachment trial will hand him a second acquittal after 45 GOP senators backed an effort this week to declare it unconstitutional because the former president is no longer in office.

But the idea is facing both political and procedural roadblocks, with the Senate currently locked into holding an impeachment trial and few GOP senators openly interested.


Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMicrosoft, FireEye push for breach reporting rules after SolarWinds hack On The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill MORE (R-Maine) told reporters that the resolution would be “in lieu” of holding the trial.

“It seems to me that there is some value in looking at an alternative to proceeding with the trial. ... I realize the two leaders have already locked in a schedule. But it seems to me there is benefit in looking at an alternative that might be able to garner bipartisan support. I don't know whether it would or not,” said Collins, who is working with Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats in standoff over minimum wage Democrats plan crackdown on rising drug costs Overnight Health Care: Biden officials announce funding to track virus variants | Senate Dems unveil public option proposal | White House: Teacher vaccinations not required for schools to reopen MORE (D-Va.).

A censure resolution, unlike impeachment, would require only 60 votes to pass the Senate, and it would amount to a historic rebuke of Trump. The Senate has censured only one president previously — Andrew Jackson — a decision it reversed three years later.

“I have been talking with a handful of my colleagues, a handful, not 40,” Kaine said. “I think the Paul motion yesterday was completely clarifying that we’re not going to get near 67 votes. So I think there’s maybe a little more interest in could this be an alternative.”

“To do a trial knowing you’ll get 55 votes at the max seems to me to be not the right prioritization of our time right now,” Kaine added.

But Democratic leadership is showing no public interest in backing down from the impeachment trial, even though it likely doesn't have the votes to ultimately convict Trump despite Republicans expressing broad frustration following the Jan. 6 attack.


Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCongress holds candlelight vigil for American lives lost to COVID-19 The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers investigate Jan. 6 security failures Senate confirms Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador MORE (D-N.Y.) is vowing to move forward with the trial, wanting to put Republicans on the record about Trump’s rhetoric.

“I would simply say to all of my colleagues: Make no mistake, there will be a trial, and the evidence against the former president will be presented, in living color, for the nation and every one of us to see,” Schumer said.

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinProgressive support builds for expanding lower courts McConnell backs Garland for attorney general Watch live: Senate Democratic leaders hold media availability MORE (D-Ill.) said he agreed “completely” with Schumer.

“We have a constitutional responsibility to accept this impeach article and hold a trial,” Durbin said.

Durbin, however, did acknowledge that Democrats will discuss a censure if they fail to convict Trump. Several senators have suggested the GOP support for conviction is likely capped at five — the number who voted against a bid by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary Hillicon Valley: Biden to take 'executive action' to address SolarWinds breach | Facebook and Google respond to Australian proposed law | DOJ charges North Korean hackers with stealing .3 billion in cryptocurrency MORE (R-Ky.) to declare the trial unconstitutional.

“We’re going to talk about it,” Durbin said about the censure measure. “I hope enough Republicans join us to impeach this president. If they don’t, perhaps we’ll consider some alternatives.”

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinHoyer: House will vote on COVID-19 relief bill Friday Haaland courts moderates during tense Senate confirmation hearing Democrats in standoff over minimum wage MORE (D-W.Va.) also appeared to signal that he didn’t think a censure resolution was a strong enough response to the Capitol attack.

“I thought the censure was definitely the way to go back on Ukraine. ... This is much, much more serious than anything we've ever seen in our lifetime, and it's really the purpose of having articles of impeachment in the Constitution,” Manchin said.

Speaking to a crowd near the White House on Jan. 6, Trump repeated his false claims that the election was “rigged” and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol. A mob subsequently breached the building as former Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Supreme Court's blow to Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - COVID-19 rescue bill a unity test for Dems MORE and lawmakers were counting the Electoral College votes.

The language of the censure is still being finalized, but Kaine told CNN that it would mirror language from the 14th Amendment. Democrats, including Kaine, have floated using Section 3 to try to bar Trump from holding future office.

“Here’s what it does: It declares that the attack on the Capitol was an insurrection against the Constitution of the United States. ... It then finds that President Trump gave aid and comfort to those who carried out the insurrection by repeatedly lying about the election, slandering election officials, pressuring others to come to Washington for a wild event and encouraging them to come up to Congress,” Kaine said.

“Those two findings, that it was an insurrection and that President Trump gave aid and comfort to the insurrectionists, is language pulled right out of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution,” he added.


But it’s unclear if censure would get much support beyond the five Republicans who voted against an effort to declare Trump’s trial unconstitutional. If there aren’t 10 Republican votes for a censure resolution, Kaine indicated that there would be a “strong desire” among Democrats to not move forward with it at all.

"I just think it's so hypothetical at this point. ... I've heard some rumblings but not serious discussion that had support from enough Democrats or Republicans for that matter to make this a realistic option,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate GOP campaign chief talks strategy with Trump Graham, Trump huddle to talk GOP's 2022 strategy Top firms slash donations to candidates by 90 percent: analysis MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican.

In addition to Collins, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiKoch-backed group launches ads urging lawmakers to reject COVID-19 relief bill Biden health nominee faces first Senate test White House stands behind Tanden as opposition mounts MORE (R-Alaska), who was also one of the five to vote against declaring the trial unconstitutional, said she would be “interested” in looking at what the language of the censure would be. A spokeswoman for Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney: 'Pretty sure' Trump would win 2024 GOP nomination if he ran for president Overnight Health Care: COVID-19 vaccine makers pledge massive supply increase | Biden health nominee faces first Senate test | White House defends reopening of facility for migrant kids On The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears MORE (R-Utah), who also opposed the Paul effort, said he would be looking at the resolution.

But other Republicans argued that the time to discuss a censure would have been before the House moved forward with its impeachment article and the Senate was locked in to start a trial in less than two weeks.

“I appreciate their thinking outside the box. We’re past that point,” said Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerOvernight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' Restaurants need relief in COVID package MORE (R-Miss.).

Asked about a censure resolution after a trial, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynProgressive support builds for expanding lower courts McConnell backs Garland for attorney general Garland seeks to draw sharp contrast with Trump-era DOJ MORE (R-Texas) replied, “I don’t know why in the world we would do that.”


Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate GOP ready to turn page on Trump Senate acquits Trump in 57-43 vote Senate strikes deal, bypassing calling impeachment witnesses MORE (R-N.D.) floated that if a censure resolution had been brought up before the House moved forward with impeachment, “there probably would have been a lot of support for it, but at this point I don’t know why we would bail them out.”

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMicrosoft, FireEye push for breach reporting rules after SolarWinds hack Biden's unity effort falters On The Trail: Trump threatens a Tea Party redux MORE (R-Mo.) noted that censure was also discussed during the Clinton impeachment trial as well as the first Trump impeachment trial but went nowhere.

“I think it's unlikely that you can unspool one thing and reel another thing out there,” Blunt added. “But we'll see.”