WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump is underway. 67 votes or two-thirds of the Senate are needed for conviction, which would mean 17 Republicans would have to side with 50 Democrats.
Senators continue to react to Wednesday’s graphic footage revealed by House impeachment managers from the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol.
Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso said the Capitol riot video is upsetting but contends the proceeding itself is not legitimate.
“The impeachment trial itself to me is unconstitutional because impeachment is to remove a president from office, and they didn’t even send the articles of impeachment over until after Donald Trump was no longer in office,” Barrasso said.
Delaware Democrat Chris Coons remains optimistic that images and eyewitness testimony will move some senators.
“I am hopeful that it will change the minds of some of my colleagues who didn’t see the need to proceed with this impeachment and don’t realize the importance of clearly holding President Trump accountable for that riot,” Coons said.
One Republican juror, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Lousiana, did have his mind changed on the issue of holding the trial, voting Tuesday that it is constitutional to try a former president after voting the opposite way previously.
“Listening to those arguments the House managers were focused they were organized they relied upon both precedent and the constitution and legal scholars they made a compelling argument,” Sen. Bill Cassidy said.
However, Cassidy may still not be swayed to convict the former president, stating earlier in the week he had not made up his mind one way or the other and would continue to listen to the evidence as it was presented. Several Republicans, like Kentucky’s Rand Paul, have refused to talk about the trial.
Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said it is not just about how the senators are affected by the case.
“The question becomes, did they affect enough constituents, and of course, remember they have today, and will the constituents put enough pressure, having seen those dramatic images, on their members?” Cramer said earlier Thursday before the House managers wrapped their opening argument in the case. “My sense of it is, not so far.”
Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island says he thinks it is a foregone conclusion for most Republican senators.
“I think for most people on the Republican side, this is a forgone conclusion, and the shadow of Trump just looms over this proceeding,” Whitehouse said. “I think there are a great many colleagues who are completely unable to vote to convict irrespective of the evidence.”
Friday, Donald Trump’s defense team takes their case to the floor and starts to take apart the case by the House managers. NewsNation confirmed Trump defense attorney David Schoen has met with several Republican senators. Schoen says that is not inappropriate for jurors to meet with attorneys.
What remains unknown is if witnesses would be called in the trial. If no witnesses are called, the trial is on track to wrap on Saturday.