House impeachment managers on Monday walked to the Senate an article of impeachment accusing former President Trump of inciting this month’s Capitol riot, allowing his trial to begin.
Trump is accused of fomenting an insurrection on Jan. 6. Five people died as his supporters stormed the Capitol and disrupted certification of President Biden’s victory.
Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) is reading the impeachment article to the Senate, officially starting the proceedings.
Senators will be sworn in as jurors Tuesday, but the trial then will be paused to allow Trump’s legal team to prepare a defense — and to allow Biden nominees to be confirmed in the meantime.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says presentations will begin the week of Feb. 8.
Nine impeachment managers will act as prosecutors, including Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), the embattled House intelligence committee member who recently was revealed to have had a close relationship with suspected Chinese spy Fang Fang.
Unlike Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts won’t preside because Trump is no longer president. Instead, Senate pro tempore Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will serve as both judge and a juror.
At least 17 Senate Republicans must vote to convict Trump to clear the Constitution’s two-thirds requirement — a steep climb. If Trump is convicted, he could be subsequently barred from holding office by a majority vote.
Ten House Republicans and all Democrats voted to impeach Trump.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is publicly open to convicting Trump and last week said the rioters were “provoked” by the then-president McConnell’s wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, was the first Trump cabinet member to resign over the Capitol riot.
Some Republicans argue there shouldn’t be a trial because Trump no longer holds office and the primary purpose of impeachment is removal from power.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who opposed Trump’s effort to overturn Biden’s victory, argued in a Monday evening appearance on Fox News that “I don’t think this trial though is within the Senate’s constitutional authority. The impeachment power is designed to convict and remove office holders.”
But in an afternoon speech, Schumer said a trial is “clearly constitutional.” He cited the 1876 impeachment and Senate trial of former Secretary of War William Beklnap, who had already resigned for taking bribes.
“A trial is going to happen… And if the former president is convicted, there will be about to disqualify him from future office,” Schumer said.
There have been three presidential Senate trials. Andrew Johnson was narrowly acquitted in 1868 and Bill Clinton was acquitted in 1999. In February 2020, Trump was acquitted of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democrats and of obstructing Congress. One Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to convict on one count.
President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 when Republican allies abandoned him during the Watergate scandal, making impeachment inevitable. Schumer said Monday that Nixon wasn’t impeached at the time because he “took some responsibility” by resigning.
“To state the obvious, President Trump did not resign,” Schumer said. “He has not demonstrated remorse. He has not even acknowledged his role in the events of Jan. 6 and he has never disavowed the lies that were fed to the American people by him about who actually won the election.”