In a 55-to-45 vote on Tuesday, the Senate narrowly killed a Republican effort to halt the proceeding, dismissing it as unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office.
The numbers showed that loyal Republicans were again ready to spare him from conviction, this time despite his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol assault that left five people dead.
Trump was blamed for inciting an insurrection when the lawmakers were busy certifying the victory of Joe Biden in the disputed 2020 presidential election. Trump believes Biden did not win the election fairly, and that the vote was rigged to deprive him of second term.
Sen. Rand Paul had made a motion on the Senate floor arguing that the impeachment trial in February violates the US Constitution.
“It’s one of the few times in Washington where a loss is actually a victory,” Paul told reporters after the Tuesday vote. “Forty-five votes means the impeachment trial is dead on arrival.”
"If 34 people support my resolution that this is an unconstitutional proceeding it shows they don’t have the votes and we’re basically wasting our time."
Some Republican senators who supported the motion said their vote did not show how they might come down on the former president’s guilt or innocence after a trial.
“It’s a totally different issue as far as I’m concerned,” Republican Senator Rob Portman told reporters.