Louisiana Republican U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy both voted Tuesday for a failed motion to dismiss former President Trump’s impeachment trial because they believe it’s unconstitutional.
But Cassidy, Kennedy and all of their colleagues in the Senate were nonetheless sworn in as jurors Tuesday for the inevitable trial to decide whether Trump incited an insurrection when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Five people died in the riot.
“I’ll listen to the evidence and seek out as much as possible what the truth is and that’s how I’ll vote,” said Cassidy, who insisted he won’t prejudge the evidence.
The trial is set to begin the week of Feb. 8, giving the former president and his attorneys time to mount a defense.
Seventeen Republicans would need to join all Democrats in order to convict Trump, a scenario considered unlikely.
A guilty verdict seemed more far-fetched Tuesday when only five Republicans joined Democrats in killing the motion from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky to dismiss the trial based on Paul’s belief that it’s unconstitutional to try someone no longer in office.
Cassidy and Kennedy sided with Paul in what was considered an early test vote to see where Republicans stand.
“Today, I voted to affirm that these impeachment proceedings are unconstitutional,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Based on the information I have right now, I voted today and will vote again later in the impeachment trial to dismiss the impeachment proceedings against former President Trump.
“These proceedings, in part, represent a thinly veiled effort by the uber-elites in our country, who look down on most Americans, to denigrate further those people who chose to vote for President Trump and not vote for President Biden.”
Both Louisiana senators voted to acquit Trump during his last impeachment trial in 2020. Trump is the only president to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives.
Trump remains popular in Louisiana, which he won by 18 points in November and 20 points in 2016.
Cassidy said the “worst-case scenario” for Trump would be if evidence showed the former president had prior briefings from the FBI that the demonstrators planned violence.
On the other hand, Cassidy said if Trump was just rallying the crowd “like at a football game” without such prior knowledge he is less likely to find the former president guilty.