Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said Sunday it’s “very unlikely” the Senate votes to convict former President Donald Trump in the impeachment trial set to begin Tuesday.
“You did have 45 Republican senators vote to suggest that they didn’t think it was appropriate to conduct a trial, so you can infer how likely it is that those folks will vote to convict,” Toomey told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State on Union.”
The senator, who has said he is not going to run for reelection after his term ends in 2022, was one of five Republicans who joined Democrats in tabling an effort to force a vote on the constitutionality of the trial last month. He told Tapper that he stands by his previous remark that Trump “committed impeachable offenses.”
“I think it is constitutional. I think it’s clearly constitutional to conduct a Senate trial with respect to an impeachment. In this case the impeachment occurred prior to the President leaving office,” Toomey said. “I stand by everything I’ve said, Jake. I still think the best outcome would have been for the President to resign. Obviously he chose not to do that.”
He added that as a juror in the impeachment trial, “I’m going to listen to the arguments on both sides and make the decision that I think is right.”
Republicans weigh in
Toomey is one of several GOP senators who discussed Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial in Sunday morning interviews.
Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina all said that they don’t think Trump should be convicted. Toomey and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, meanwhile, stressed that they will listen to both sides of the argument before making a decision in the trial.
“The question is should he be convicted in an impeachment trial, the answer is no,” Wicker said on ABC’s “This Week.”
When asked if the former President should be held accountable for his actions on January 6, Wicker said that perhaps there could be “another avenue” for Trump if there are criminal charges brought against him, but that Congress should not have a role.
“If being held accountable means being impeached by the House and being convicted by the Senate, the answer to that is no. Now if there are other ways in the court of public opinion, or if some — if some criminal charge dawns on some prosecutor, perhaps there’s another avenue there,” Wicker told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos
In an appearance on “Meet the Press,” Cassidy said he intends to “listen to both sides and be objective.” However, he criticized the House on the handling of the process for impeachment.
“It was a video, there was no process. It’s almost like if it happened in the Soviet Union you would have called it a show trial,” Cassidy said, adding that “the President wasn’t there, he wasn’t allowed counsel, they didn’t amass evidence, in five hours they kind of judged and boom he’s impeached.”
Graham, a longtime ally of Trump, reiterated his stance that he believes the trial is unconstitutional and that there is no question the former President will be acquitted.
“If you believe he committed a crime he can be prosecuted like any other citizen, impeachment is a political process,” Graham said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
On “Fox News Sunday,” Paul told Chris Wallace he believes there is “zero chance” Trump will be convicted by the Senate. He also said he thinks it is unlikely there will be witnesses.
Trump is likely to be acquitted by the Senate for the second time, with Democrats falling short of the two-thirds votes needed for conviction.
When Paul forced a vote on the constitutionality of Trump’s impeachment trial in January — arguing it was unconstitutional to convict a former President — only a handful of Republicans joined all the Democrats to kill the Kentucky Republican’s motion. It was a telling vote since Democrats will need at least 17 Republican senators to vote to convict Trump and bar him from running for future office.
Both sides are seeking a speedy trial. While the House impeachment managers are eyeing a proceeding that could last up to two weeks, some Senate Democrats are pushing for a quicker time frame.
Senate Democrats are diving into their effort to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, a high-wire act that will require every Senate Democrat to stay on board. Plus, Biden still has a slate of nominees that needs to get confirmed by the Senate. And none of that can happen on the floor until the trial is done.
While Republicans are in no rush to confirm Biden’s Cabinet, they also don’t have a desire for the public to remain fixated on the events of January 6 — and on the former President — in a lengthy trial.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.