House Democrats deliver Trump impeachment charge to Senate

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Leaders in the US House of Representatives have officially delivered their article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate, the first step in beginning his trial.

Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump’s trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol.

On arrival in the Senate, Jamie Raskin the lead House impeachment manager, Representative, read out the charge. “Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by inciting violence against the government of the United States,” he said.

Ten House Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump on Jan. 13. But Senate Democrats will need the support of 17 Republicans to convict him in the evenly divided chamber, a steep climb given the continued allegiance to Trump among the Republican Party’s conservative base of voters.

Over 30 Democrats were present to hear Raskin’s remarks, but just three Republicans: Senate party leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Mitt Romney and Senator Roger Marshall, who was just elected in November.

Capitol Police were scattered along the lawmakers’ route from the House to the Senate, and security around the Capitol remained tight, with roads closed off and barbed wire-topped fencing. Many of the National Guard troops deployed after Jan. 6 had been sent home, but thousands remained.

Start date

Trump, a Republican, is the only U.S. president to have been impeached by the House twice and is set to become the first to face trial after leaving office. His term ended last Wednesday.

The Senate is expected to start a trial on Feb. 9 on the article of impeachment against Trump. The 100 senators are due to serve as jurors in proceedings that could result in Trump’s disqualification from ever again serving as president.

Democrat Patrick Leahy, the Senate’s longest-serving member, said he would preside over the trial.

Although the Constitution calls on the U.S. chief justice to preside over presidential impeachments, ’’a senator presides when the impeached is not the current president’’ a Senate source said. First elected to the chamber in 1974, Leahy, 80, holds the title of Senate president pro tempore.

Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the impeachment trial when the Senate, then controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, acquitted Trump in February 2020 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress arising from his request that Ukraine investigate Biden and his son.

Leahy will still be able to vote in the trial, an aide said, noting that senators still vote on all matters when presiding over the chamber.

A number of Republican lawmakers have objected to the impeachment, some arguing that it would be a violation of the Constitution to hold a trial now because Trump no longer serves as president.

“I still have concerns about the constitutionality of this, and then the precedent it sets in trying to convict a private citizen,” Republican Senator Joni Ernst said. “So in the future, can this be used against (former) President (Barack) Obama?” she asked.

Chuck Schumer, a Democrat and Senate Majority Leader, rejected that argument.

“The theory that the Senate can’t try former officials would amount to a constitutional get-out-of-jail-free card for any president,” Schumer told the Senate.

 

Olusola Akintonde/Reuters

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