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GOP senator: Trump impeachment a 'meaningless messaging partisan exercise'

Republican Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Biden, lawmakers start down a road with infrastructure OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan | House GOP's planned environmental bills drop Democratic priorities | Advocates optimistic Biden infrastructure plan is a step toward sustainability On The Money: Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan | Democrats debate tax hikes on wealthy | Biden, Congress target semiconductor shortage MORE (Miss.) on Sunday rejected the second impeachment trial of former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to move ahead with billion UAE weapons sale approved by Trump Fox News hires high-profile defense team in Dominion defamation lawsuit Associate indicted in Gaetz scandal cooperating with DOJ: report MORE while saying punishment the “court of public opinion” or “some criminal charge” may be “another avenue.”

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Wicker said Trump's impeachment is a “meaningless messaging partisan exercise.”

Host George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosBiden was right to call Putin a 'killer' — but is he doing enough to save Alexei Navalny? Senate Republican targets infrastructure package's effect on small business job creators Energy secretary: 'We don't want to use past definitions of infrastructure' MORE noted that the actions Trump is being tried for, allegedly inciting a riot in the U.S. Capitol, had occurred while he was still in office and asked the senator if he should be held accountable.

“If being held accountable means being impeached by the House and being convicted by the Senate, the answer to that is no,” Wicker said. “Now if there are other ways in the court of public opinion or if there's some criminal charge ... dawns on some prosecutor, perhaps, there's another avenue there.”

Wicker argued that the Constitution did not specify whether or not impeachment of a former president is permissible and said President Biden could have helped unify the government by intervening and calling for the trial not to proceed. 

Stephanopoulos brought up Wicker's statements made during the impeachment trial of former President Clinton in which he said he would be voting to impeach to "protect the long-term national interest of the United States, to affirm the importance of truth and honesty and to uphold the rule of law in our nation."

The ABC News host questioned whether or not Trump's actions were more deserving of impeachment than Clinton's

"I'm not conceding that the President Trump incited an insurrection," Wicker responded. "Let me say this. Republicans learned a lot from the impeachment of President Clinton. President Clinton had been adjudged to have committed perjury by a judge in the state of Arkansas perjury is a felony under the law of every state. And that was the controlling principle that brought me to a yes vote."

Democrats will need at least 17 GOP senators to vote in favor of impeachment in order to convict Trump, an outcome that is unlikely to happen. Senate President Pro Tempore Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) is expected to preside over the trial, which is set to begin this week, instead of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.