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With Trump conviction in Senate unlikely, Kaine working on censure motion with GOP senators

Mike Lee, Susan Collins, Tim Kaine
Posted at 7:05 PM, Jan 27, 2021

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, revealed that he is working with a small, bipartisan group of senators to draft a censure motion against President Donald Trump in lieu of seeking a conviction in the Senate.

Kaine acknowledged on Wednesday that getting Trump convicted in the Senate is unlikely, given that only five of 50 Republican senators voted that impeaching a former president is constitutional. In order to get a conviction and ban Trump from holding future federal office, 17 Republicans would have to join all 50 Democrats.

Part of a censure could include language that would preclude Trump from holding federal office in the future under the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment stipulates that a person could be barred from holding office if involved in an insurrection, but it’s unclear how that process could play out. Like the process of impeaching a former president, precluding someone from holding federal office in the future under the 14th Amendment is likely to setup separate legal questions.

But with Democrats and a handful of Republicans saying that Trump’s words and actions leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot should preclude him from holding future federal office, Kaine is hopeful taking a different route might be attractive to Republicans.

“Not only would we fall short, but we would use time for something that we could be using for COVID relief, which I think is just so dire right now,” Kaine said. “And so I've been exploring that. And I think there had been some interest, but the House after they sent papers our way, so we have to do something with it.”

Susan Collins, R-Maine, told ABC News that she would be open to alternatives. Collins was one of the five Senate Republicans who voted in moving forward with the trial of Trump.

“It is extremely unlikely that President Trump would be convicted and that indeed the five votes to even proceed to a trial is probably the high mark on what you're going to see for Republican support,” Collins said. “So, it seems to me that there is some value in looking at an alternative to proceeding with the trial. It's obviously not my call, and I realize the two leaders have already locked in a schedule. But it seems to me there is benefit in looking at an alternative that might be able to garner bipartisan support.”

Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk.Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs or on Facebook.