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Senate votes trial constitutional; six Republicans vote 'yes'

The Senate rejected an attempt on Tuesday to derail former President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE’s impeachment trial by getting it declared unconstitutional. 

Senators voted 56-44 that the trial is constitutional. The vote required only a simple majority.

Six GOP senators joined with Democrats to say they believe the trial is constitutional, largely mirroring a similar vote from late last month. 

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Only Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyTrump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC Republicans, please save your party Senate panel splits along party lines on Becerra MORE (R-La.), who had previously supported an effort by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers House sets vote for George Floyd police reform bill MORE (R-Ky.) that would have declared the trial unconstitutional, flipped and said on Tuesday that he believes it is constitutional. 

Despite Cassidy's vote, the result again underscored the uphill battle Democrats face to get the 17 GOP senators needed to convict Trump.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntFive takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing Biden convenes bipartisan meeting on cancer research Pentagon prevented immediate response to mob, says Guard chief MORE (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership who voted to say it was unconstitutional, predicted that it was a sign of the trial ending in Trump's acquittal. 
 
"I would think the underlying view of what impeachment is all about would be the determining factor at the end," Blunt said.
 
Asked if he expected the vote would be similar to the question on acquittal, he added, "I do." 
 
Even after an effective video and a presentation from the Democratic impeachment managers that received good reviews from Republicans, the majority of GOP senators voted that the trial was unconstitutional.
 
The presentation from Trump's attorneys, in particular Bruce Castor, drew broad criticism from Senate Republicans, who felt that it missed the mark and was at times hard to follow. 

Cassidy panned the presentation from Trump's team, contrasting it with the House impeachment managers he believes were more effective. 

"I said I'd be an impartial juror. Anyone listening to those arguments — the House managers were focused. They were organized. They relied upon both precedent, the Constitution and legal scholars. They made a compelling reason. President Trump's team was disorganized," Cassidy said. 

He added that "as an impartial juror, I'm going to vote for the side that did the good job."

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GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy Republicans, please save your party Susan Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDemocrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill White House not ready to name Tanden replacement The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington on high alert as QAnon theory marks March 4 MORE (Alaska), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRepublicans, please save your party Mellman: How the Senate decided impeachment The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? MORE (Utah), Ben SasseBen SasseGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks Republicans, please save your party Mellman: How the Senate decided impeachment MORE (Neb.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (Pa.) had previously voted to say the trial was constitutional and voted the same way on Tuesday.

"I thought they did a good job in outlining the Constitutional arguments of both sides. I continue to be persuaded by the weight of the scholarly analysis, which says it's constitutional to carry out a trial after someone's left office," said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Collins said she was "perplexed" by Castor. She added that the signaling out by Trump's team of Toomey and Sasse—who voted last month to say they thought the trial was constitutional— was "inappropriate."  

House impeachment managers and Trump's team spent hours debating if the trial was constitutional ahead of Tuesday's vote. That's a shift from last month's vote, where Republicans appeared caught off guard that Paul was forcing the issue. 

But senators say the result of the vote was largely already settled after senators had to make a decision last month. 
 
"I think it played out pretty much as expected. The result of this trial is preordained. President Trump will be acquitted," Cruz said, while calling Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinDeJoy apologizes for mail delays while defending Postal Service changes Officer on Capitol riot: 'Is this America? They beat police officers with Blue Lives Matter flags' Considering impeachment's future MORE (D-Md.), the lead House manager, "impressive." 
 
"Maybe, I don't know maybe Cassidy’s mind was," he said.