WASHINGTON — Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, a juror in former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, called Trump’s defense team “our side” when talking to reporters Thursday.
“I’m not sure when our side starts, but Saturday’s looking better all the time,” Blunt told reporters Thursday in response to a question about when the trial was likely to conclude.
At the beginning of the impeachment trial, senators swore an oath “to do impartial justice.” But Blunt’s phrasing reflects the political nature of the trial.
Blunt was one of 44 Republicans to vote that the trial was unconstitutional on the first day and he has told reporters that he intends to vote that way throughout the proceeding. Blunt’s spokeswoman declined to answer a question about the senator’s use of the phrase.
Blunt argued Thursday that the evidence presented by House impeachment managers, outlining how Trump-aligned groups spent weeks preparing to attack the Capitol, undercut their case against the former president on the charge of incitement of insurrection.
“The one thing the House impeachment managers did add into the argument yesterday was the groups of people were preparing for weeks to assault the Capitol, which I think hurts their argument and I also think wasn’t available to them when they passed the impeachment resolution and said this was all the president,” Blunt said.
Later in the day, Blunt said nothing has occurred in the trial that “would change your mind if your view is that you can’t impeach a former president.”
Trump was impeached during his final week in office and Senate GOP leaders delayed the start of the trial until after President Joe Biden took office. The argument that Trump cannot stand trial after leaving office has been rebutted by constitutional scholars and the House impeachment managers as lacking a historical or legal basis.
While Trump is the first president to face an impeachment trial after he’s left office, the Senate has previously tried federal judges and a cabinet secretary after they had stepped down from their positions.
“If you don’t find this a high crime and misdemeanor today you have set a new terrible standard for presidential misconduct in the United States of America,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Maryland Democrat who leads the House impeachment team.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, an attorney, said the legal argument that Trump cannot be tried under the constitution has been thoroughly debunked and he called on the region’s senators to be more forthcoming about the reasons they’ll likely vote to acquit Trump this weekend.
“Two of the senators in this region are up for election in 2022 and I think they’re worried about primaries,” Lucas said in reference to Blunt and Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran. “I think they have more concern about the Republican base than at the constitutional issue at question.”