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Sen. Coons says impeachment trial still important, as conviction looks unlikely

Courtesy of the office of Sen. Chris Coons

Senate Republicans have signalled an unwillingness to convict former President Donald Trump in his impending impeachment trial. One of Delaware's senators is not giving up. 

Only five Senate Republicans voted with Democrats Tuesday to affirm the constitutionality of the impeachment trial— which will look at whether Trump incited the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. The failed objection by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) argued it is unconstitutional to proceed with the trial now that Trump is out of office.

Democrats would need 17 Republican votes to convict Trump after the trial, which starts Feb. 9.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) says Republicans made it clear they have “no intention of holding President Trump accountable.”

“We need to find a way to hold President Trump and those who encouraged and supported the violent protest that overran our Capitol three weeks ago accountable for our history and our future,” Coons said Wednesday. 

Coons says the constitutionality question will set an important precedent. 

“Our framers put impeachment into our constitution as the only way Congress can constraint an out-of-control executive,” Coons said. “It is unquestionable that if impeachment is something you can avoid by resigning at the last minute before the impeachment is effective, then it has no impact.”

Coons says although Congress must work on passing more pandemic aid for Americans, he’s not willing to simply move on from the deadly Capitol riot. 

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) has also expressed a desire to hold Trump accountable for what he sees as incitement of the insurrection. 

If Trump is convicted, he could face another vote that could bar him from holding future office.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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