The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is underway as the Senate begins to set parameters for the proceeding. This is the first time a president will undergo a Senate trial twice, and although Trump is no longer in office, the trial will continue.
The Senate is split 50-50 and would need a two-thirds majority to convict the former president of inciting an insurrection, the article he was impeached under by the House earlier this month. Michigan Senator Gary Peters is among the Democrats trying to convince Republican members to convict.
“The facts are very clear that you had the President of the United States basically inciting an insurrection and an attack on the United States, on the United States Capitol, a violent attack on the United States Capitol,” Peters said. “Something that we have not seen a U.S. President ever do, it’s simply unacceptable, it needs to be called out and the President, the former President now, needs to be held accountable for that behavior and it’s important for us to do that.”
A few days ago, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul called into question the constitutionality of the trial, since Senate trials on impeachment have traditionally been to remove the impeached President from office and Trump’s term has already come to an end. His motion failed with only 5 Republican Senators voting against it, which indicated their support for the trial. This nearly complete lack of support for the trial on the Republican side of the aisle does not bode well for the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump.
Peters said Republicans arguing constitutionality is “a process argument that makes no sense,” as the main point of conviction would be barring Trump from ever again holding federal office. Peters highlighted the gravity of the charges brought against Trump and the complicity of those elected officials who spread misinformation.
“This dangerous rhetoric led to violence and an attack on the very citadel of our democracy, the United States, Capitol,” Peters said. “People died, folks were injured, and I think I speak for all Americans who were watching that happen, as folks were watching that, it wasn’t just an attack on the men and women who work in the Capitol, it was truly an attack on our country, and it was an attack on all Americans.”
The change of power from Republican to Democrat in the Senate following the elections of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, means that there’s a new title for Peters as well; he is now chairing the Senate Homeland Security Committee. The committee, formerly under Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, was looking into election integrity, but Peters wants to switch focus to tackling a number of different crises affecting the nation.
“My focus is dealing with the pandemic and our oversight responsibilities of FEMA and that’s to make sure the vaccine distribution and that it’s truly a national response. We have to get the vaccine into more arms and as quickly as possible,” Peters said. “We also have to deal with cybersecurity threats, the government was just hit with a major and very damaging cyber-attack by a state actor, we have to fortify those defenses. And we also have to deal with the rise of domestic terrorism and white supremacy in particular.”
Peters is also likely to be named as chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which will work to get more Democrats elected to the Senate in 2022. He said it’s important that Democrats in the Senate show people that they can get things done. He noted that pushing through Biden’s COVID plans is important not just to bolster the party politically, but for the American people.
“Right now I’m focused on getting the COVID agenda moving forward because the American people need it,” Peters said. “We have folks who are still struggling to put food on the table, roof over their head. We’ve got small businesses that are struggling to stay open and there’s no way we can get this economy up and running as quickly as any of us would like if our small businesses aren’t able to survive. So, our focus has to be on good policy and good policy means working aggressively to get people on their feet and through this pandemic.”
This article was written by Stateside production assistant Olive Scott