Senate impeachment trial: The next step in the Trump impeachment process

The question now is whether he will be the first president to be censured by the Senate and removed from office.

What’s the next step? The indictment in a two-count trial. The House of Representatives introduces and passes articles of impeachment, but it is in the Senate that a defendant is tried – and possibly punished.

Not much. The passage is quite simple. That’s it:

The Senate will have sole jurisdiction to consider all charges. To this end, they must be sworn or confirmed. The President of the United States is presided over by the Chief Justice: And no one can be convicted without the consent of two-thirds of the members present. (Article 1, Section 3)

Are there any rules?

Yes. The Senate has a set of rules that were first created in 1868 as part of Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial and updated in 1986. You can read it here.

Senators will be sworn in before the hearing. They call for order every day. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has special functions. There are time limits on arguments and rebuttals, and all questions from honorable senators to the chamber’s counsel and to Trump must be in writing and read by the chief justice.

When does this process begin?

It’s not entirely clear. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote that he would hold the senators until the last day of Trump’s term, the 19th. January. In a statement late Wednesday, he said the trial would begin then.

Can a trial take place in one day?

Almost certainly not. It will take days, if not weeks, for a group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives, which will bring the case against Mr. Trump and his lawyers, to respond. Therefore, it is almost impossible for a trial to take place before the inauguration of President Joe Biden on the 20th. January can take place.

So Mr. Trump will resign before the Senate process is complete?

Yes. Senators will vote on the procedure for the former president’s resignation.

What’s the point of bringing charges against a former president?

There is precedent for charges against former officials. For more information, click here. Although the main penalty for an indictment is removal from office, senators could vote to remove Mr Trump from office in the future – remember, he hasn’t ruled out a presidential race in 2024. He may also lose his six-figure pension and other benefits when his employment ends.

But Biden will be president. Won’t the Senate be busy with other things?

Yes. Okay. Okay. They’ll be busy with Biden’s confirmation auditions – at least four of which are already scheduled for the week of the 20th. January scheduled: Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State Lloyd Austin, Treasurer Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Alejandro Mallorcas. Senators may be called upon to draft bills related to the pandemic or economic aid – Biden wants to increase aid payments to $2,000.

So the indictment won’t be the only thing they have to do. And it’s likely they’ll only spend part of their day on Trump’s trial. They could also, under the rules, appoint an ad hoc committee to investigate the matter, but that seems unlikely.

One thing to keep in mind: Although McConnell now sets the calendar as Senate majority leader, he will lose that status once the results of the second round of the fifth Senate election are known. January are confirmed and two new Democratic senators, John Ossoff and Rafael Warnock, take their seats. At the time, New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer would become the Senate majority leader and have more control over the judiciary.

The indictment of Trump failed for the first time. What’s different now?

In a nutshell: Republicans. In Trump’s first impeachment, only one Republican senator – Mitt Romney of Utah – voted for the impeachment. This time, instead of defending Trump, McConnell would enthusiastically try to shut him down or remove him from the GOP. Will this lead to an increase in votes to implicate Trump? It’s not clear.

How many votes does it take to condemn Trump?

Good question! Two-thirds are needed for conviction. If all 100 senators are present, that’s 67 senators. Assuming these two Georgians are seated, that means it takes 50 senators from each party and 17 Republicans.

Whatever! Please note the rules, which require 2/3 of those present. If these two Georgia Democrats haven’t already joined, it would take 66 senators to do so. If some Republicans don’t want to vote against Trump but don’t want to condemn him either, they can skip the vote and change the ratio. We know these things happened, but not during the indictment.

What historical precedent?

There have already been three previous presidential indictments, including the first trial for Trump’s indictment. President Andrew Johnson was impeached, but survived a one-vote vote in the Senate after seven Republicans broke ranks in his party. Johnson did not win the election after his indictment. President Bill Clinton was impeached for a second term and was easily vindicated; less than a majority of Senators supported his impeachment, far from the 2/3 requirement. Trump’s first trial had a similar result, with only Romney joining the Democrats and less than a majority of Senators supporting his conviction and impeachment.

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