WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Most Republican senators on Tuesday voted for a motion saying the impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office, making the prospect for Democrats to garner enough votes to convict Trump dimming.
The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 55-45 to set aside the motion. Only five of 50 Senate Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues.
Among those who voted for the motion was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said earlier this month he was undecided on whether to convict Trump.
However, John Thune, the No. 2 Republican senator, said he thought the vote was "indicative" of where Republicans are but it doesn't "bind" them into voting a particular way on conviction.
Democrats say they have precedent on their side, arguing while no former president has been tried by the Senate after leaving office, Secretary of War William Belknap was tried in the Senate in 1876 after he had already resigned.
Senators were sworn in as jurors for the trial earlier on Tuesday, a day after House impeachment managers delivered to the Senate the article of impeachment against Trump for incitement of insurrection leading to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
The Senate trial is set to begin the week of Feb. 8. Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, is presiding over the trial instead of Chief Justice John Roberts because Trump is now a former president.
The Democrats-controlled House voted to impeach Trump over "incitement of insurrection" in a 232-197 vote on Jan. 13, making him the first president to be impeached twice.
At least 17 Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats to convict Trump by a two-thirds majority. Enditem