Toomey bucks GOP, backs Senate trial of Trump

Dispatch staff
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., questions Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during a Congressional Oversight Commission hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday Dec. 10, 2020. (Sarah Silbiger/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey was one of just five Senate Republicans on Tuesday to support the coming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Earlier this month, the House impeached Trump for the second time, this instance accusing the Republican of inciting an insurrection.

On Jan. 6, Trump gave a speech to supporters in which he continued falsely claiming the November election was stolen and told the crowd to march on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers were certifying President Joe Biden's victory.

Hours later, the pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol and drove lawmakers into hiding. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer.

On Tuesday, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., led the effort to stall the Senate's impeachment trial, which failed by a 55-45 vote. Most Senate Republicans argued that the impeachment trial was unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office.

Toomey disagreed.

“In my view, the text and context of the Constitution, the meaning of the term ‘impeachment’ to the founders, and the most relevant precedents indicate that it is constitutionally permissible for the Senate to consider the impeachment of President Trump," Toomey, R-Pa., said in a statement following Tuesday's vote. 

Capitol police officers in riot gear push back demonstrators who try to break a door of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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Toomey joined all Senate Democrats and four other Republicans who voted to move forward with the trial. Republican Sens. Susan Collins, of Maine, Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, Mitt Romney, of Utah, and Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, also joined Democrats in opposing the motion to scuttle the impeachment trial.

Trump's conviction would require the support of at least 17 Republicans in order to reach the required two-thirds majority. And 45 of 50 Senate Republicans joined Paul's attempt to end the proceeding before the trial. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, however, has said he has not made up his mind.

McConnell's ultimate decision could sway the opinion of many other Republicans. 

Toomey is not seeking reelection in 2022. 

Trial is scheduled to start the week of Feb. 8. If convicted, Trump could be barred from holding office again.