Patrick Leahy: Senior-most US Senator hospitalised

GOP takes Rand Paul’s exit ramp as Senate barrels towards Trump trial

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Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, the US Senate’s senior-most member and president pro tempore, was taken to a hospital “out of an abundance of caution” after he began feeling ill on Tuesday.

The 80-year-old senator from Vermont, set to preside over the second impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump, was “not feeling well” at his office at the US Capitol on Tuesday, according to a statement.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Attending Physician recommended that he be taken to a local hospital for observation, where is now, and where he is being evaluated,” the statement said.

The senator is third in the presidential line of succession behind Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

On Tuesday, Senator Leahy swore in all members of the Senate to act as jurors in the upcoming trial following Mr Trump’s impeachment for his role in inciting the riot at the Capitol on 6 January.

Senator Rand Paul failed to pass a motion to rule the former president’s trial as unconstitutional because he is no longer in office. The vote to table the measure passed by 55-45. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was among those who supported Senator Paul’s effort.

Just five Republican senators – Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Pat Toomey – were among the votes to table the measure.

US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presided over Mr Trump’s first trial in January 2020, and he was acquitted on 5 February. The Senate president pro tempore has typically presided over impeachment proceedings for non-presidents. Mr Trump is the first president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office.

In a statement announcing Senator Leahy’s role in the trial, he said: “When I preside over the impeachment of former president Donald Trump, I will not waiver from my constitutional and sworn obligations to administer the trial with fairness, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.”

A trial is set to begin on the week of 8 February.

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