The US House of Representatives presented its article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate, a move that officially triggers the Senate trial against the former President of the United States.
Walking from one side of the U.S. Capitol to the other, nine House Directors appointed by President Nancy Pelosi hand-delivered the impeachment document to the Senate on Monday evening.
The article accused Trump of “inciting insurgency” in connection with the deadly Jan.6 assault on the US Capitol building in Washington, DC by a crowd of his supporters.
The House dismissed Trump on January 13 on the same charge – making him the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.
Representative Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar and one of the House directors who will act as prosecutors in the Senate trial against Trump, read the impeachment article aloud in the Senate on Monday.
“President Trump has repeatedly issued false statements claiming that the results of the presidential election were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people, nor certified by state or federal authorities,” Raskin said.
The formal step kicks off the trial phase of the impeachment process, in which all 100 senators will sit as jurors to hear evidence and legal arguments from House officials and Trump’s defense team.
To be convicted, the Senate must obtain a two-thirds majority on the impeachment charge.
If that happens, a subsequent vote could prevent Trump from running for public office again in the future.
Trial starting in February
Democratic and Republican Senate leaders have agreed on a timeline for the trial, which is expected to begin the week of February 8.
“House directors and the former president’s counsel will have some time to prepare their legal briefs, just as they have done in previous trials,” Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said in an address to the room Monday.
“Once the briefs are written, the parties’ presentations will begin the week of February 8,” he said.
Senators will be sworn in as jurors on Wednesday and a summons will be sent by the Senate to the former president, requiring him to respond to the article of impeachment.
Trump was originally challenge Amid accusations, he instigated the Capitol crowd in a speech he gave before the violation and in repeated false claims that the presidential election was stolen from him.
Before the House voted to impeach him, Trump had said his speech at the Jan.6 rally of his supporters was “entirely appropriate.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a senior Democrat who holds the title of Acting Senate Speaker, will preside over the trial in place of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.
“When presiding over an impeachment trial, the pro tem president takes an additional oath to do impartial justice in accordance with the Constitution and the laws,” Leahy said in a statement.
“It is an oath that I take extremely seriously,” he said.
Republicans are divided on impeachment, with some senators saying Trump should be held responsible for the Capitol riot and others fearing that a conviction of the former Republican president could be damaging to the party.
Some Republican lawmakers have argued that holding an impeachment trial after Trump stepped down is unconstitutional – a claim that has been rejected by Democrats and some American pundits.
Heidi Zhou-Castro, of Al Jazeera, who reports from Washington, DC, said on Monday that some Republicans also said the lawsuit could further divide the country.
“The Democrats, to counter this, have said that in order to achieve unity, as everyone is calling for, there must first be accountability,” Zhou-Castro said.
“And they say if Trump were indeed to be guilty of inciting an insurgency and just step down and not be held responsible, then that would set a dangerous precedent.”
Democrats will need to get more than a dozen Republicans to vote impeachment to get a conviction because Democrats have only a narrow majority in the chamber.
Trial schedule, procedure
House officials and Trump’s defense team will exchange legal briefs in the days leading up to the trial.
The nine House Directors will be led in the trial by Raskin, a constitutional scholar and senior House lawyer for accusing Trump of insurgency following the January 6 attacks.
Raskin read the impeachment article aloud in the Senate on Monday. “President Trump has repeatedly issued false statements claiming that the results of the presidential election were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people, nor certified by state or federal authorities,” did he declare.
House administrators have retained lawyers Barry Berke and Joshua Matz to help them pursue their lawsuits.
Berke and Matz both participated in the first Senate impeachment trial against Trump in 2020, which involved accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of justice for his attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government.
For his part, Trump has retained the services of Butch Bowers of South Carolina, an experienced lawyer who has previously represented politicians.
House managers will have until February 2 to file their pre-trial brief outlining the case for the conviction. Trump’s defense attorney will have the same time frame to respond to the charge, Reuters news agency reported.
February 8 is the next deadline for Trump’s legal team to file a response to the House brief and for House directors to file a response to the president’s response to the impeachment article.