If Al Capone were a Trump supporter

Impeachment against Donald Trump: In loyalty to Trump

A test vote in the US Senate shows: Far too few Republicans vote against Donald Trump to be convicted in the impeachment process.

Pro-Trumper leader: Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul Photo: ap

WASHINGTONdpa | Before the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump in the Senate, a conviction and a suspension of office for the former US president are becoming increasingly unlikely. Forty-five of the 50 Republicans in the Senate supported a motion by their party colleague Rand Paul on Tuesday, who called the process unconstitutional and wanted to stop its progress. Only five Republicans voted with the 50 Democrats.

Paul's request was rejected by a majority. A two-thirds majority for a condemnation of Trump, which would be a prerequisite for the suspension of office sought by the Democrats, hardly seems realistic against this background. The Senate proceedings are due to begin in the second week of February.

Paul argued that the process was against the constitution because it was directed not against a president but against a private person. Trump has not been in office since his successor Joe Biden was sworn in on January 20.

The Democratic majority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, called Paul's argument "simply wrong". Otherwise, a president could avoid impeachment and suspension by committing crimes against the country immediately before the end of his term or stepping down before a trial in the Senate, he said.

Two-thirds majority against Trump not in sight

The House of Representatives forwarded the indictment against Trump to the Senate - the other chamber in Congress - on Monday. In it Trump is accused of "inciting a riot". The Democrats, as well as some Republicans, accuse Trump of inciting his supporters before storming the Capitol. Five people were killed in the riots on January 6, including a police officer.

Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell voted for Paul's move on Tuesday. McConnell had publicly blamed Trump for the attack on Congress last week. US media had previously reported that the influential senator had internally declared that he was undecided on how to vote in an impeachment trial. The Democrats had hoped to win him over to convict Trump. McConnell's example might have been followed by other Republican senators.

A two-thirds majority of the senators would be necessary for Trump to be convicted. New President Biden's Republicans and Democrats each hold 50 seats in the Senate. So there would also have to be 17 Republicans against Trump. In the event of a conviction, a simple majority in a second vote would be sufficient to impose the life-long ban on office at the federal level against Trump, as demanded by the Democrats.

Biden, who has largely kept a low profile on the impeachment proceedings against his predecessor, told CNN that he didn't think 17 Republicans would vote to convict Trump. But he spoke out in favor of the procedure. "I think it has to be done."

The prosecutors and defense lawyers now have two weeks to work on their impeachment papers. Written arguments from the House of Representatives and Trump attorneys should be available by February 8. The actual impeachment process in the Senate would then begin on February 9th. Democrats and Republicans in the Senate agreed on Friday on the second week of February as the start date.

The Senate wants to take care of other matters until the actual start of the proceedings. This suits Biden because he depends on the approval of the Senate for the confirmation of his nominated cabinet members and other top personalities. On Monday, Janet Yellen was confirmed as the country's first Secretary of the Treasury. On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Antony Blinken as the new Foreign Minister of the Biden government.