CNN anchor Dana Bash challenged Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman for his vote on the constitutionality of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
Portman and 44 other Republican senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, all voted last Tuesday for an ultimately unsuccessful motion presented by Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to dismiss the impeachment trial based on the fact that Trump is no longer in office.
During an appearance on Sunday morning’s “State of the Union,” Bash asked Portman whether he believed that Trump’s role in inciting the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol was “impeachable conduct.”
Portman maintained that while Trump was “partly responsible” for the violence and his actions were “wrong and inexcusable,” the fact that the former president is no longer in office presents a constitutionality issue that “has to be addressed.”
“We would be convicting a private citizen, someone out of office, and that sets a precedent and I think all former presidents, those alive and those not could be affected in a negative way,” he said.
“If you don’t vote yes aren’t you excusing it?” Bash pressed. “You say it’s inexcusable. If you don’t vote yes one could argue you are doing just that. You are excusing the behavior.”
“Well, it can be inexcusable and yet not be subject to a conviction after a president has left office,” said Portman, who added that Chief Justice John Roberts is not presiding over the Senate trial for the same reason. (RELATED: Schumer Says Impeachment Trial Will Move Quickly, Won’t Need A Lot Of Witnesses)
Portman went on to argue against the allegations of widespread election fraud presented by Trump and his legal team leading up to the Jan. 6 riot.