WASHINGTON (WNCN) – Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said impeaching a former president who is now a private citizen would set as dangerous a precedent as rejecting the states’ electors.

Tillis released a statement on the impeachment of former President Donald Trump as the trial in the Senate is set to begin Feb. 8.

A total of 45 Republicans voted Tuesday against moving forward with the second impeachment trial.

“On January 6, I said voting to reject the states’ electors was a dangerous precedent we should not set,” Tillis said. “Likewise, impeaching a former President who is now a private citizen would be equally unwise.”

The North Carolina senator said his Democratic colleagues would have objected to a GOP effort to disqualify former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from running for president in 2016 because of her email controversy.

“The impeachment power can be turned into a political weapon, especially if it is primarily used to disqualify an individual citizen from running for public office,” he said. “Congress should not dictate to the American people who they can and cannot vote for.”

Tillis said he believes the American people can make their own informed decisions about who to voted for, “just as they have done every four years since George Washington was elected as our first president.”

Trump’s impeachment will be the first-ever of a former president.

The House impeached him two weeks ago for inciting deadly riots in the Capitol on Jan. 6 when he told his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat.

Yet the support of 45 Republicans for declaring the trial invalid indicates that there are long odds for Trump’s conviction, which would require the support of all Democrats and 17 Republicans, or two-thirds of the Senate.

While most Republicans criticized Trump shortly after the attack, many of them have rushed to defend him in the trial, showing the former president’s enduring sway over the GOP.