‘It will destroy the party’: Rand Paul warns of GOP exodus if Senate Republicans vote to convict

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Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, warned Friday that Senate Republicans will “destroy the party” if they vote to impeach President Trump.

Mr. Paul, who previously condemned the U.S. Capitol rioting and voted against objections to the 2020 presidential election, said one-third of voters would leave if Senate Republicans get behind the “insane and wrongheaded” impeachment push.

“Look, I didn’t agree with the fight that happened last week, and I voted against overturning the election, but at the same time, the impeachment is a wrongheaded, partisan notion,” said Mr. Paul on Fox’s “The Ingraham Angle.” “But if Republicans go along with it, it’ll destroy the party.”

The Democrat-controlled House on Wednesday voted to impeach Mr. Trump by 232-197, with 10 Republicans, including House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, joining Democrats in support of the single Article of Impeachment for “incitement of insurrection.”

“A third of the Republicans will leave the party,” Mr. Paul said. “This isn’t about, anymore, about the Electoral College, it’s about the future of the party, and whether you’re going to ostracize and excommunicate President Trump from the party. Well, guess what? Millions of his fans will leave as well.”

The article of impeachment now goes for a trial before the Senate, and would require a two-thirds vote to convict. If convicted, the president would be removed from office, although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that the trial will not begin before Jan. 19.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 20, meaning that Mr. Trump will have already left office by the time the Senate holds the impeachment trial. If convicted, Mr. Trump could also be disqualified from holding future office, according to legal scholars.

In a letter last week to Senate Republicans, Mr. McConnell said that “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,” prompting the warning from Mr. Paul.

“They will destroy the Republican Party. If leadership is complicit with an impeachment or if leadership votes for an impeachment, they will destroy the party,” Mr. Paul said. “Like I say, I have opposed President Trump when I thought he was wrong, I’ve been for him when he was right. We did a lot of good things throughout the Trump presidency, and impeachment is purely a partisan thing.”

Several Senate Republicans are seen as potential votes in favor of convicting the president based on their previous comments, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse. Mr. Romney of Utah was the only Senate Republican to vote to convict Mr. Trump in his first impeachment trial in February 2020.

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