Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA., speaks with Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

What we're hearing: Some Democrats are interested only if at least 10 GOP senators publicly commit to a censure, thus ensuring the 60-vote margin needed to pass major legislation in the chamber.

  • It's still unclear whether a resolution would be in lieu of or come after a trial.

Driving the news: Kaine (D-Va.) and Collins (R-Maine) have been interested in a censure resolution for weeks now and have discussed it on multiple occasions.

  • But the bipartisan discussions among senators grew more earnest after 45 Republicans voted today in favor of a motion to dismiss the trial because Trump is now out of office.
  • The vote was a clear indication he won't be convicted.

Between the lines: In some ways, a censure vote could be more difficult for Republicans, because they can't rely on the argument that a resolution is unconstitutional — like they are for an impeachment conviction.

  • It would also be a history-making vote. No other president has been censured after leaving office.

What they're saying: "I think it's pretty obvious from the vote today, that it is extraordinarily unlikely that the president will be convicted. Just do the math," Collins told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

  • Kaine has said he wants to do whatever possible to keep the focus on the Biden-Harris agenda and COVID-19 relief, so he supports a speedy trial or alternate way to hold Trump accountable.
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