Democratic senator floats Trump censure as Senate prepares for impeachment trial

President Trump is shown addressing Congress in this Feb. 5, 2019, file photo. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine says he’s been talking privately with his Senate colleagues about censuring former President Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, told Capitol Hill reporters on Wednesday that he views censure as a possible “alternative” to Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate. But the idea didn’t appear to gain much traction with Senate Democratic leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday, as Kaine’s effort became public, that “there will be a trial, and the evidence against the former president will be presented, in living color, for the nation and every one of us to see.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine is a Democrat from Virginia. (Photo via Sen. Kaine’s office)

Kaine said that a procedural vote on Tuesday — in which all but five Senate Republicans voted to declare the impeachment trial unconstitutional — was “completely clarifying” that there will not be the 67 votes needed to convict Trump of inciting his supporters to disrupt the tally of Electoral College votes.

And as the chamber forges ahead with another impeachment trial of Trump, Kaine said that time could be better used working on pandemic relief for Americans.

“So, I think there’s maybe a little more interest now and then could this be an alternative,” he said, according to a pool feed of his comments in a Capitol hallway. “I’ve drafted something. I haven’t filed it yet, because I’m trying to get other people’s ideas about what should be in it.”

It’s not clear whether other senators would sign on to Kaine’s proposal, and if so, how many might do so.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, told reporters that she’s been working with Kaine, though neither she nor Kaine would name any other Republicans who have been a part of discussions.

“It seems to me there is benefit in looking at an alternative that might be able to garner bipartisan support,” Collins said. “I don’t know whether it would or not.”

Collins said censure would be “ in lieu of the trial.” Asked if the censure resolution might include a provision barring Trump from holding office again, she said she and Kaine were continuing to go through potential language.

The impeachment charge against Trump was approved in the House with support from every Democrat and 10 Republicans. So far, no Senate Republican has backed a vote to convict Trump in the trial that’s set to begin Feb. 8.

Asked about Kaine’s proposal, his Virginia counterpart, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, responded: “I think Tim’s got some really interesting ideas, but I think, you know, Sen. Schumer said, we’ll move to a trial.”

A group of House lawmakers introduced a censure resolution against Trump, one day before the chamber vote on the article of impeachment. The House proceeded with the impeachment process, and the censure resolution did not advance.