The Senate GOP looks unlikely to convict Trump for inciting insurrection at the deadly Capitol riot.
It’s been three weeks since former President Donald Trump encouraged his supporters in a deadly attack on the Capitol building, and lawmakers who are trying to hold him accountable are facing a narrow path to success.
On Tuesday, all but five Republican senators voted to challenge the constitutionality of trying Trump for “incitement of insurrection” after he has left office. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives earlier this month, but the Senate needs 67 votes to convict Trump. And that means at least 17 Republicans need to vote with Democrats. And yesterday’s vote signals that it’s unlikely enough Republicans will join Democrats to convict.
“I think it’s pretty obvious from the vote today that it is extraordinarily unlikely that the president will be convicted,” Senator Susan Collins of Maine said to reporters. Collins is one of the five Republicans who voted to proceed to trial. “Just do the math.”
The other senators who joined Collins to back the constitutionality of the proceedings were Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Senators could change their minds before the trial officially begins in two weeks. Senate leadership agreed to begin the trial on Feb. 9 to give both sides time to prepare their arguments. According to the New York Times, several Republicans who voted to uphold the constitutional challenge clarified that they would remain open minded about the upcoming trial.
Meanwhile, in the three weeks since armed rioters attacked Congress, the Department of Justice has charged more than 150 people for their participation in the insurrection, and has open cases on over 400 people in total.
“It is my pledge that anyone involved in violent attacks on law enforcement at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin said in a statement.
The department has also focused its attention on individuals who were particularly violent during the capitol attack. For instance, Patrick Edward McCaughey III of Connecticut was charged for assaulting an officer during the Capitol insurrection.
“Even after days of seeing so many shocking and horrific scenes from the siege on the U.S. Capitol, the savage beating of D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Hodges stands out for the perpetrator’s blatant disregard for human life,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office in a statement. “Patrick McCaughey’s actions were violent, barbaric, and completely out of control.”
Some arrests have been fairly easy to make because attackers posted their action on social media sites.
In DC and around the country, law enforcement officers are asking the public to help identify attackers so that they can be charged. There are increasing reports of family members and friends of suspects providing tips to officers.