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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.

Go deeper

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

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, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

Pelosi's Republican playbook

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As Republicans fight among themselves, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is showing the myriad ways she deals with the GOP herself.

Between the lines: We've seen Pelosi cut opponents off at the knees, like she did with President Trump, or pretend to forget their names, as she did to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). Now she's feeding oppo research against her House counterpart, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), so others can use the same harsh rhetoric to frame the Republicans as the party of dysfunction.