Divisions Harden in Senate as It Prepares to Obtain Impeachment Article

WASHINGTON – Legislators dug into dueling positions on Sunday over the impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump and deepened divisions in an already divided Senate a day before its indictment was handed over to local lawmakers.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney, the only Republican to vote for the conviction of Mr Trump in his first impeachment trial, said Sunday that he believed the former president had committed a criminal offense and efforts to keep him out after he left To bring the office to court are largely constitutional.

“I believe that what is alleged and what we have seen that incites rioting is a criminal offense,” Romney said of State of the Union on CNN. “If not, what is it?”

But even when Mr Romney signaled his openness to convicting Mr Trump, other Senate Republicans made it clear that they would even speak out against the idea of ​​a trial and try to dismiss the charge before it began. Taken together, the comments underscored the rift created by the January 6th Capitol uprising and its impact on the Republican conference as senators weighed whether or not to pay a steeper political price for breaking with the former president .

Although the House will broadcast the impeachment notice on Monday, Senate leaders agreed on Friday to postpone the process by two weeks to give President Biden time to set up his cabinet and Mr. Trump’s team time to prepare a defense. But the plan also guarantees that the process will dominate the crucial first few days of his term in office, and it could spark tension between the partisans even if the president pushes a message of unity.

Some Senate Republicans, including Kentucky minority leader Mitch McConnell, are increasingly concerned that their ties with the former president could hurt the party’s political fate for years if they don’t step in to distance themselves from Mr. Trump. Others, bypassing the question of whether Mr Trump committed a criminal act, have argued that conducting a Senate trial for a president who has already resigned would be unconstitutional and would further divide the nation.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio described holding a trial as “stupid” and “counterproductive” compared to “taking a bundle of gasoline and pouring it on the fire.”

“The first chance I get to end this process,” he said, “I’ll do it because I think it’s really bad for America.”

In a Fox News Sunday interview with Chris Wallace, Mr. Rubio compared the change in power to that of President Richard M. Nixon.

“In hindsight, I think we can all agree that President Ford’s pardon was important in order for the country to move forward,” said Rubio, “and history pretty much has Richard Nixon for what he did as a result blamed. “

When asked if he believed Mr. Trump had committed a criminal offense, Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota called it “a point of contention” and argued that prosecuting a former president was both unconstitutional and unconstitutional Is a waste of time.

“When we start working on an impeachment, it looks like we’ll only have a few weeks here to actually work through and give this president the opportunity to form a cabinet.” Mr. Rounds said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “Many of us would prefer to solve these problems instead.”

Representative Madeleine Dean, a Democrat of Pennsylvania and one of the impeachment executives who will try the case against Mr. Trump, said Sunday she expected the process to be “faster” than his 2020 trial, which took 21 days.

“Some people want us to turn the page, ‘Oh, let’s move on,'” Ms. Dean told State of the Union. “I think we have to remember that this impeachment process, I hope the conviction, the final disqualification, are the first powerful steps towards unity.”

Ms. Dean declined to say whether impeachment managers would take up a New York Times report on Friday that Mr. Trump had considered firing the acting attorney general during his tenure in order to exercise the Department of Justice’s power to power Georgia lawmakers force his president to overthrow election results. However, the impeachment managers have previously signaled that they intend to bring a relatively straightforward case, with the siege, which took place in public, at the center of their case.

Quoting both the Capitol uprising and an hour-long phone call Mr. Trump pressured the Georgian Foreign Secretary to dismiss the election results, Mr Romney said the allegations, already contained in the impeachment process, were sufficient in themselves that the american people are outraged. “

The delay until the start of the attempt also means that lawmakers will continue to consider another coronavirus stimulus package. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Mr. Romney, met with Brian Deese, Mr. Biden’s key economic advisor, on Sunday to discuss the government’s proposed $ 1.9 trillion bill. The Republicans have largely turned down this offer and rejected it at the expense.

“I am open to this discussion. I want to hear what the White House has to say, ”Romney said. “But at the same time, I think people are realizing the important thing that we don’t borrow hundreds of billions – trillions of dollars in fact, from the Chinese – for things that may not be strictly necessary.”

Chris Cameron contributed to the coverage.

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