Trump’s impeachment trial in US Senate to begin next month

Democratic leader urges ‘truth and accountability’ in the trial of the former president on ‘incitement of insurrection’ charge.

Former President Donald Trump left office on January 20 but still faces an impeachment trial in the US Senate [File: Al Drago/EPA]
Former President Donald Trump left office on January 20 but still faces an impeachment trial in the US Senate [File: Al Drago/EPA]

The United States Senate will move forward with a second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” next month, a Senate leader said on Friday.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has informed the Senate she will transmit the House’s article of impeachment of Trump to the Senate on Monday.

Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues it “will be a momentous and solemn day, as the House sadly transmits the Article of Impeachment for Donald Trump to the Senate.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor on Friday, “Make no mistake, a trial will be held in the United States Senate and there will be a vote whether to convict the president.”

“It will be a fair trial. It will be a full trial,” Schumer said.

The House voted 232 to 197 on January 13 to impeach the former president for “incitement of insurrection”.

Thousands of Trump supporters had gathered in Washington, DC on January 6 to hear the president speak at a rally. The pro-Trump crowd marched on the US Capitol and hundreds stormed past police barricades to invade the halls of Congress. Five people died in the violence.

Pelosi had said on Thursday moving forward with a Senate impeachment trial of Trump would not hurt the new “unity” that President Joe Biden is calling for in Washington.

“The fact is, the president of the United States, committed an act of incitement of insurrection,” Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill the day after Biden was sworn in as president.

Delivery of the article of impeachment on Monday would trigger Senate rules requiring it to conduct a trial.

Schumer said nine members of the House lead by Representative Jamie Raskin and assigned to prosecute the case against Trump would present the article of impeachment in the Senate on Monday, January 25.

The House managers and Trump’s lawyers would then have two weeks to prepare legal briefs and presentations of evidence before the start of the trial on February 8, according to Schumer.

“During that period, the Senate will continue to do other business for the American people, such as cabinet nominations and the COVID relief bill which would provide relief for millions of Americans who are suffering,” Schumer said.

“We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us but healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability. And that is what this trial will provide,” Schumer said.

Republicans in the Senate appear divided on the whether Trump is guilty of incitement. Some have called for Trump’s impeachment while others have cast it as another partisan attack by Democrats on the former president which should be rejected.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has blamed Trump for provoking the crowd on January 6. On Friday, he called for fairness and due process in the handling of the trial.

“Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defence and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions at stake,” McConnell said.

Trump has hired South Carolina lawyer Butch Bowers to help with his defence, according to media reports. Bowers is a former Justice Department lawyer in the Bush administration and a friend of Senator Lindsey Graham, a leading defender of the former president.

One of the legal issues Trump’s defence will raise is whether a former president can be tried on impeachment, Graham said on Twitter.

“I have heard some of my Republican colleagues argue that this trial would be unconstitutional because Donald Trump is no longer in office, an argument that has been roundly repudiated, debunked by hundreds of constitutional scholars, left right and centre and defies basic common sense,” Schumer said.

Trump was previously impeached by the House in 2019 for abuse of power for pressuring the government of Ukraine to manufacture political dirt on Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Trump was acquitted in the Senate in 2020 after a two-week trial.

Source: Al Jazeera

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