Jan. 25 (UPI) — The historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump officially began on Monday when the House physically delivered the single charge, of inciting an insurrection, to the Senate.
On Monday evening, House impeachment managers walked over the article against Trump to the Senate chamber. Beginning a series of traditional and symbolic steps to get to the trial in earnest.
“Tonight we have delivered the Article of Impeachment against Donald John Trump, former president of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors against the United States,” lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., wrote in a statement.
Raskin then read the article on the Senate floor and senators will be sworn in as jurors on Tuesday.
The House approved the article of impeachment on Jan. 13, making Trump the first president to be impeached twice. The article accuses Trump of inciting the attack this month at the U.S. Capitol, primarily with a “Save America” rally near the White House at which he urged supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”
On Friday, House and Senate leaders agreed to send the article on Monday, which formally opens the trial process.
Also Monday, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced that he will preside over Trump’s impeachment trial as president pro tempore of the Senate, rather than Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over Trump’s first impeachment trial.
“The president pro tempore has historically presided over Senate impeachment trials of non-presidents. When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tempore takes an additional special oath to do impartial justice according to Constitution and the laws. It is an oath I take extraordinarily seriously,” he said.
“I consider holding the office of the president pro tempore and the responsibilities that come with it to be one of the highest honors and most serious responsibilities of my career. When I preside over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, I will not waver from my constitutional and sworn obligations to administer the trial with fairness, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.”
A two-week period of pretrial briefs will follow Tuesday’s swearing-in before the substance of the proceeding begins on Feb. 8.
Lawmakers agreed to the interim period so that the upper chamber can continue confirming President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees and work on the new administration’s efforts to deliver COVID-19 relief to Americans.
The period also allows Trump to prepare his defense. So far, he has enlisted South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers to represent him.
Biden and several senators had previously said they could address all three matters at the same time, but Senate Republicans last week rejected a proposal to schedule coronavirus, Cabinet and impeachment matters on different days.
Whether the Senate will ultimately convict Trump is far from certain.
Two-thirds of the chamber would need to vote to convict, which would require 17 Republicans to join all Democrats. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, now the chamber’s minority leader, has previously indicated that he’s open to objectively looking at the evidence.
It’s also unclear if witnesses will be called for the trial.
For Trump’s first impeachment a year ago, McConnell and most Republicans refused to allow for witnesses.
Trump had been impeached on two articles then, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump pushed for a “public” investigation in the country of Biden, who was then expected to be a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.