Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to start on February 9
The US Senate will put former President Donald Trump on impeachment trial on February 9 after a two-week delay agreed upon by Democratic and Republican leaders on Friday.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives will convey the article of impeachment to the Senate, also controlled by Democrats now, on Monday at 7pm, as announced earlier on Friday.
Impeachment managers, members of the House selected to argue for Trump’s conviction by the Senate, will be sworn in on Tuesday as prosecutors, as will be all the 100 Senators in their role as jurors.
The delay will allow the Senate to confirm President Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees, something that he publicly called for on Friday. “The more time we have to get up and running to meet these crises, the better,” Biden told reporters.
Republicans had wanted more time as well - three weeks, actually - for Trump to put together his defence team, which he has just started by hiring a lawyer.
“The January 6th insurrection at the Capitol incited by Donald J. Trump was a day none of us will ever forget,” Chuck Schumer, the Democrat who heads the Senate as majority leader, said on the floor of the upper chamber. “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.”
Republicans welcomed the deal as a “win for due process and fairness”.
Trump was impeached on the charge of “incitement of insurrection” by the House of Representatives last week in a bipartisan vote. Ten Republicans had joined Democrats to deliver him a historic rebuke over a riot at the US Capitol. On January 6, Trump’s supporters had stormed the Capitol building to prevent a joint session of Congress from certifying Biden’s election win.
Trump became thus the first American president to be impeached twice - the first was in December 2019. He is also the first US president to face impeachment trial after leaving office.
Trump was acquitted by the Republican-led Senate in February 2020 after he was first impeachment in 2019.
This time, however, Republicans feel less inclined to protect him. They are appalled by the attack he incited on the seat of US democracy and want to use the outrage to cleanse the party of his toxic influence.
“Mitch said to me he wants Trump gone,” a Republican member of Congress told CNN, referring to Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate and a one-time Trump ally. “It is in his political interest to have him gone. It is in the GOP’s interest to have him gone. The question is, do we get there?”
Republicans hold the key to Trump’s conviction or acquittal. In an evenly divided Senate, 17 of them will have to vote with the 50 Democrats to convict Trump. Only a majority of two-third in the Senate can convict a president - or a former president, as it is in this case.
If Trump were still in office, a conviction in the impeachment trial would have terminated his presidency and led to his ouster from the White House.
Now, when he is already out, a conviction will ban him from holding federal office in the future, shutting out his plan to run for president in 2024.