Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) told Fox News on Sunday morning that the pending Senate trial for former President Donald Trump was “stupid” and “counter-productive,” and suggested that he would vote to end it on procedural grounds the “first chance” he gets.
“The first chance I get to vote to end this trial, I’ll do it because I think it’s really bad for America,” Rubio told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “If you want to hold people accountable, there’s other ways to do it, particularly for president, including, as I said, the perspective of history, and even now as people are learning more about all of this.”
“This is not a criminal justice trial, this is a political process,” he added. “Ultimately, it is a political process that’s going to inject things into our public discourse, into our debates, that’s going to make it harder to get important things done, and it’s just going to continue to fuel these divisions that have paralyzed the country.”
Rubio, one of the 28 Republicans who have voiced opposition to convicting Trump in a Senate trial, said he believes Trump “bears responsibility for some of what happened,” but he also said that’s a “separate … notion” from revisiting the matter in a trial. For example, said Rubio, history has held former President Richard Nixon accountable for his wrongdoings without an impeachment vote.
“[Not just is it] going to keep us from focusing on really important things, but it’s also just going to stir it up even more and make it harder to get things done moving forward,” said the Florida Republican lawmaker.
The impeachment trial is scheduled to begin in the Senate the week of February 8, even though the House plans to deliver the Article of Impeachment to the Senate, which triggers the beginning of the process, on Monday. This is because Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) struck a deal earlier this week to extend the pre-trial process and delay the beginning of the trial, providing more time to prepare arguments and for the Senate to conduct other business.
McConnell, along with nineteen other Republican senators, has expressed openness to the idea of convicting Trump, according to a Washington Post tracker. “I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” he said back in mid-January.
However, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has rebuked the idea of convicting Trump in a Senate trial.
“Post-presidential impeachment’s never occurred in the history of the country for a reason, that it’s unconstitutional, it sets a bad precedent for the presidency, and it continues to divide the nation,” said Graham.
“On the facts, his speech is not incitement under the law. Bottom line is, you’ve got a very compelling constitutional case and, on the facts, they’ll be able to mount a defense,” he added. “The main thing is to give him a chance to prepare and run the trial orderly.”