Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., opposes the impeachment proceedings against former president Donald Trump on constitutional grounds, and attempted unsuccessfully this week to get the votes to dismiss those proceedings, arguing that you can’t impeach a private citizen. The 45 votes Paul’s motion to dismiss the proceedings received – all from Republicans – may have been insufficient to carry the motion, but the vote total all but guarantees there will not be the necessary 67 senators to convict Trump when a trial occurs.
But Paul went further than simply arguing that the Constitution doesn’t allow for impeachment of a private citizen. In a floor speech in support of his motion, he reminded senators that on January 6, President Trump called upon rally attendees to “peacefully and patriotically” march to the Capitol and make their voices heard. “Hardly words of violence,” Paul said of Trump’s remarks.
He then called out Democrats for their double standard when it comes to condemning “incitement.”
“But what of Democrat words?” he asked. “What of Democrat incitement to violence? No Democrat will honestly ask whether [Senator] Bernie Sanders [I-Vt.] incited the shooter that nearly killed [Rep.] Steve Scalise [R-La.] and a volunteer coach.
“The shooter nearly pulled off a massacre. I was there, because he fervently believed the false and inflammatory rhetoric spewed by Bernie and other Democrats — such as ‘The Republican healthcare plan for the uninsured is that you die.’ As this avowed Bernie supporter shot Steve Scalise … he screamed, ‘This is for healthcare!'”
Paul reminded the Senate of his own brush with a mob in Washington, D.C., after the Republican National Convention last summer, and asked about the rhetoric of Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who in 2018 urged people to “get in the face” of Trump Cabinet, White House and other Republican officials.
“And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, at a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them that they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere…” Waters said at the time.
“No Democrat has ever considered impeaching Maxine for her violent rhetoric,” Paul said.
Paul brought up Vice President Kamala Harris’ promise to pay the bail of violent street protesters in the riots last summer.
“Vice President Kamala Harris famously helped to raise money for the bail of those arrested for violent offenses,” Paul said. “I wonder if she will be brought up on charges of inciting violence for that, now that she is the vice president? Should she be impeached?”
The “summer of love” in various cities around the country resulted in injuries to 700 police officers, as well as at least 19 murders, “including that of 77-year old retired police officer David Dorn,” Paul continued. Dorn was murdered in St. Louis in August as he attempted to protect a friend’s business from looters.
“A sham, this is. A travesty,” Paul said. “A dark blot on the history of our country.”
After the failed vote, Paul celebrated the implied victory that the 45 votes he did muster means for the impeachment trial. “We’re excited about it,” Paul said after the vote. “It was one of the few times in Washington where a loss is actually a victory.”
The five Senate Republicans who voted with Democrats in opposing Paul’s motion to dismiss the impeachment proceedings included Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
The impeachment trial is scheduled to begin on February 8.
Photo from CNP/ABACA/REUTERS