The US House of Representatives submitted a single impeachment article to the Senate on Monday, accusing Donald Trump of instigating the storming of the Capitol, thus starting the first impeachment trial against a former president.
In a solemn procession, the House’s nine impeachment executives silently walked the article through the same ornate congress halls that were overrun by Trump supporters on Jan. 6 and handed it over to the Senate.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, the chief impeachment manager, then read the indictment against Trump in the Senate, where the former president continues to enjoy substantial support from Republican senators.
“Donald John Trump has been involved in high crimes and misdemeanors by inciting violence against the United States government,” Raskin said. “It threatened the integrity of the democratic system, disrupted the peaceful transfer of power and endangered an equal branch of government.”
The Senate trial of 74-year-old Trump, who was indicted for the unprecedented second time by the House of the Democratic Majority on January 13, is set to begin the week of February 8.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the 100 Senate members who will serve as jurors would be sworn in and Trump summoned on Tuesday.
Democrats and Republicans agreed to postpone the start of the trial by two weeks to allow Trump to prepare his defense against the “incitement to insurrection” charges and to allow the Senate to ratify President Joe Biden’s cabinet appointment.
US Supreme Court Justice John Roberts led Trump’s previous Senate trial – which ended in his acquittal – but this time the Senate President will be temporary.
The President pro Tempore is the high-ranking senator of the party with a majority in the Senate, currently the Democrats. Patrick Leahy, 80, who was elected to the Senate in 1974, holds this position.
Republican Senator John Cornyn said a senator serving as judge and juror created a conflict of interest, but another Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, denied his concerns.
“I’ve known Pat a long time,” said Graham. “I believe and hope that it is fair.”
– ‘Must be held accountable’ –
Leahy said he would take an oath to be impartial.
“President pro Tempore has run impeachment proceedings against non-presidents in the Senate in the past,” Leahy said.
“In presiding over impeachment proceedings, the president takes an additional special oath pro tempore to ensure impartial justice under the constitution and law,” he said. “It is an oath I take extremely seriously.”
Desperate to put Trump in the rearview mirror and make progress in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and revitalizing the economy, 78-year-old Biden has easily tackled the impeachment. However, on Monday night he told CNN, “I think this has to happen.”
Democratic representative Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, said Monday that Trump “must be held accountable”.
“We are not allowed to give Donald Trump a passport because he sparked a deadly riot in our capitol,” said Nadler.
“The House did its job in indicting Trump, and now the Senate must do the job by making sure it is never again able to harm the United States directly.”
Ten Republicans, along with their Democratic counterparts in the House of Representatives, voted against Trump for inciting the crowd to storm the Capitol while Congress confirmed Biden’s election victory on November 3.
Five people died in the chaos, including a policeman and a protester who were shot dead by Capitol police.
The House also indicted Trump a year ago for attempting to politically tarnish Biden, of Ukraine, but he was acquitted by the Senate, where only a single Republican Senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, voted for the conviction.
– ‘Get Out Of Jail Free Card’ –
While more Republican senators may vote in favor of condemning Trump this time around, at least 17 of them are unlikely to do so.
Democrats control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber, and a two-thirds majority is required to condemn Trump, who remains a powerful figure in the Republican Party.
If Trump is convicted, the Senate could prevent him from taking office again, which would prevent him from running for president in 2024.
A number of Republicans have denounced plans to try Trump in the Senate, and some have argued that the panel has no power to try a private individual like Trump is now.
Schumer rejected this argument in a comment in the Senate on Monday.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “The theory that the Senate cannot bring former officials to justice would mean a constitutional ‘released from prison’ card for any president committing a criminal offense.”
Trump repeatedly and falsely claimed that he won the election and called his supporters to Washington for a rally on Jan. 6, which coincided with the confirmation of the results by Congress.
After a speech by Trump, thousands of his supporters stormed the Capitol, fought violent battles with the police and sent lawmakers down.
Trump faces potential legal threat on numerous fronts, but received welcome news Monday as the Supreme Court closed lawsuits alleging he violated laws prohibiting a president from accepting income from foreign sources.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)