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WORLD | 23-01-2021 09:03

Trump impeachment heads to Senate Monday, triggering trial

Article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump will be delivered to the Senate on Monday, triggering the start of his unprecedented second trial in the chamber.

Former president Donald Trump will go on trial in the United States Senate soon after a fresh impeachment case against the former president is transmitted on Monday by the House of Representatives, US lawmakers said yesterday.

The House impeached the Republican leader for a historic second time on January 13, just one week before he left office.

After days of declining to say when she would send the article of impeachment to the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, made her announcement Friday.

"The article of impeachment for incitement of insurrection by Donald Trump will be delivered to the Senate on Monday, January 25," she said in a statement.

Pelosi has appointed nine House members as impeachment managers, who she said "are ready to begin to make their case to 100 Senate jurors through the trial process."

The managers are to formally transmit the article, a step which according to Senate rules swiftly transforms the chamber into a court of impeachment.

Chuck Schumer, the new Democratic Senate majority leader, said Friday in a floor speech that he had spoken with Pelosi who informed him of Monday's proceedings.

"A trial will be held in the United States Senate and there will be a vote whether to convict the president," Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor. "It will be a fair trial. But make no mistake, there will be a trial."

Schumer made no mention about when opening arguments will be heard in the Senate, whose members will deliberate whether to convict Trump on what the US Constitution describes as "high crimes and misdemeanours."

Trump was impeached on a single charge of "incitement of insurrection" for his role in whipping up his supporters during a speech in Washington on January 6, the day a pro-Trump mob stormed Congress and threatened the lives of lawmakers and then-vice president Mike Pence. Five people died in the violence, including a police officer.

Trial looms

Most modern-day Senate trials have begun within a day or two of receipt of the articles of impeachment.

Transmitting the articles to the upper chamber triggers the start of the trial, unless a consent agreement on timing between Schumer and the Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell, is reached.

McConnell severely reprimanded the outgoing president and left the door open for voting to convict Trump. But he has sought a delay in an impeachment trial until February, arguing Trump needs time to hire lawyers and mount a defense.

On Friday, McConnell acknowledged the Democrats' timetable. 

"As I understand, it must be headed our way Monday. By Senate rules, if the article arrives, we have to start a trial right then," he said on the floor.

McConnell spoke of the "unprecedentedly fast" process in the House, where Trump was impeached in a single day.

"The sequel cannot be an insufficient Senate process that denies former president Trump his due process or damages the Senate or the presidency itself," he said.

He also said that delaying the trial would have provided time for the Senate to confirm members of new President Joe Biden's cabinet, and consider crucial legislation like a coronavirus pandemic rescue package.

Trump survived a first impeachment almost a year ago when the then Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him of abusing his office to try to get dirt on Biden's family before the election.

With the Senate now comprised of 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, and a two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump, at least 17 Republicans would have to vote against the former president to secure a conviction.

If that occurs, a subsequent vote would be held on whether to ban Trump from holding public office in the future.

A handful of Republicans have spoken out harshly against the president but it remained unclear if there would be enough GOP senators to vote for conviction.

– AFP

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