Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said during an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham on Friday he believes if GOP leadership is complicit in voting with Democrats for impeachment, they will destroy the GOP party if it leads to Trump's conviction, adding that he thinks one-third of the party will leave.
The senator said he thinks the Democrats' second article of impeachment—alleging the president incited an insurrection that resulted in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.—is "purely a partisan thing."
"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," Paul said.
"Impeachment is purely a partisan thing, it’s for these moral—oh I’m so much better than you and you’re a bad person because I’m so moral," he continued.
The senator noted that he didn't agree with the incidents that happened at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. and also voted against overturning the election following claims of election fraud, but he added that he thinks filing impeachment is just "a wrongheaded, partisan notion."
"If Republicans go along with it, it will destroy the party," Paul said. "A third of the Republicans will leave the party."
The impeachment, accomplished in a single seven-hour session, was the fastest in U.S. history. It is also the first time in the nation's history that a president has been impeached twice.
Republicans criticized the rush, arguing that it offered no due process to the president and no confidence in the proceedings to the American people. Democrats justified the truncated process by alleging that Trump poses a danger to the nation every day he is in office.
"We know that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion, against our common country," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) alleged. "He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love."
Every Democrat voted in favor of impeachment. While zero Republicans voted to impeach Trump last year, 10 crossed the aisle in the Jan. 13 vote.
Republicans who voted to impeach the president were Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), Tom Rice (R-S.C.), David Valadao (R-Calif.), and Peter Meijer (R-Mich.)
Some Republicans argued that moving forward with impeachment would further divide the nation.
“Instead of moving forward as a unifying force, the majority in the House is choosing to divide us further,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said. “I can think of no action the House could take that’s more likely to further divide the American people than the action we are contemplating today.”
Some of the Republicans who opposed impeachment didn't explicitly defend the president. Others opposed the charge and argued that the president's actions didn't amount to incitement.