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.