The Senate tabled an effort by Republican Sen. Rand Paul to force a vote on Tuesday on the constitutionality of former President Trump's impeachment trial, but the vote offered an indicator for support among Republican senators who have been sworn in as jurors for the trial.
Paul's motion was killed on a 55-45 vote, as five Republicans joined all Democrats, meaning 45 Republicans supported Paul's effort.
Sens. Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Pat Toomey voted with Democrats.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell sided with Paul and voted against the Democratic tabling motion — perhaps a sign that he agrees the constitutionality of impeaching a former President is in question.
Paul, speaking from the Senate floor, made his point of order the impeachment trial is unconstitutional because Trump is out of office.
"I make a point of order that this proceeding which would try a private citizen and not a president, a vice president or civil officer violates the Constitution and is not in order," said the junior senator from Kentucky.
Paul also objected to the fact that the Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of Senate, would preside over the trial rather than the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, as stipulated in the Constitution for the trial of a sitting president.
"The presiding officer is not the chief justice nor does he claim to be," said Paul. "His presence in the chief justice absence demonstrates that this is not a trial of the president but of a private citizen."
Paul's argument however quickly drew a response from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who said that the Constitution had provided a provision for disqualifying former elected officials from holding federal office in the future.
Schumer said Paul had omitted from his argument that Article II, Section II allows for the "removal of office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office honor."
"If the framers intended impeachment to merely be a vehicle to remove sitting officials from their office they would not have included that additional provision, disqualification from future office," he said.
"The language is crystal clear without any ambiguity," concluded the majority leader. "The history and precedent is clear. The Senate has the power to try former officials, and the reasons for that are basic common sense."