Senators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial

Senators from both parties dueled over the legality of impeaching a former president on the Sunday political talk show circuit this week, indicating that resistance within the GOP caucus will complicate efforts to reach the 67-vote threshold necessary to convict former President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE over the events of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

On ABC's "This Week," Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharOn The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Schumer, McConnell headed for another collision over voting rights Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (D-Minn.) defended the constitutionality of Democrats' push for impeachment, which the party has argued is necessary in part to prevent Trump from seeking office again. 

In her argument, Klobuchar pointed to the 1876 decision by the Senate declaring that it had jurisdiction to pursue a trial against a former Cabinet official who had resigned before his Senate impeachment trial began.

“It is constitutional. We have precedent from way back when a secretary of war was tried after he had left office. And, obviously, there was a remedy that would help in the future, which would ban former President Trump from running again,” she told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.

On CNN's "State of the Union" and "Fox News Sunday," Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE (R-Utah), who would be a key Republican vote in favor of conviction, indicated that he agreed with Klobuchar and the Democratic majority on the issue of the legality of their impeachment push. He did not say whether he would vote to convict the president a second time around.

"I'll of course hear what the lawyers have to say for each side. But I think it's pretty clear that the effort is constitutional," he told CNN's Dana BashDana BashManchin lays down demands for child tax credit: report Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Senate Democrat says Facebook offers 'crocodile tears about protecting children' MORE.

But on NBC's "Meet the Press," Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit Schumer frustrates GOP, Manchin with fiery debt ceiling speech Here are the 11 GOP senators who helped advance the debt extension MORE (R-S.D.) threw cold water on any attempts at securing his vote for impeachment, telling host Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddArkansas governor backs employer vaccine mandates Paid family leave is 'not a vacation,' Buttigieg says Grisham thinks Trump will run in 2024 and have no 'guardrails' MORE that the impeachment question was a "moot point" now that Trump has left office.

"To begin with, I think it's a moot point," Rounds said. "Donald Trump is no longer the president. He is a former president."

"Article I ... specifically point[s] out that you can impeach the president, and it does not indicate that you can impeach someone that is not in office. So I think it is a moot point, and it's one I think they would have a very difficult time in getting done in the Senate," he added.

The disagreement over the legality of impeachment indicates a steep climb Democrats will face as they pursue the 67 votes required for Trump's conviction over the course of his trial, set to begin in February. Trump is the first U.S. president in history to be impeached twice by the House.

A handful of GOP senators, including Sens. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (Pa.), Ben SasseBen SasseInvoking 'Big Tech' as an accusation can endanger American security Biden slips further back to failed China policies The Memo: Generals' testimony on Afghanistan hurts Biden's credibility MORE (Neb.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiAnti-Trump Republicans endorsing vulnerable Democrats to prevent GOP takeover GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema McConnell gets GOP wake-up call MORE (Alaska), have indicated that they believed the former president committed impeachable offenses with his incitement of the mob that descended upon the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress debated the official Electoral College count affirming President Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.  

GOP sources told The Hill last week that they expect a handful of defections from their party during the upcoming impeachment trial but said the effort to convict Trump will still likely fail.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Biden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan MORE proposed on a call last week that the impeachment trial be delayed until February to give Trump enough time to mount a defense.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRepublicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention MORE (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s closest allies, told senators on the call that Trump had hired Butch Bowers, an attorney from South Carolina, to defend him at the Senate trial.