Trump impeachment trial approved by US Senate

Former president Donald Trump will face a second impeachment trial, after the US Senate rejected Republican arguments that it would be unconstitutional.

Senators were being asked to vote if Mr Trump can be tried even though he is no longer in office.

It was approved 56 to 44, with six Republican senators voting with Democrats and independents – Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Capitol riot video presented as evidence

It means a trial with Senators sitting as a jury will get underway on Wednesday, and will likely last into the middle of next week.

Adam Parsons is in Washington DC for Sky News, and has been watching proceedings.

So now we know. The impeachment trial will definitely happen; Donald Trump will, once again, face the scrutiny of the Senate.

After weeks of questions and doubts, of angry rows and legal objections, the process will be played out.

More from Donald Trump

  • Trump impeachment: Political turbulence won’t blow over as long as he is able to run for president

  • Donald Trump’s lawyers say second impeachment is ‘political theatre’

  • Donald Trump’s impeachment Senate trial round two: Eight things to expect

  • Iran takes ‘final’ stance on nuclear deal and says US must lift sanctions before it will rejoin

  • Americans voice ‘legitimate fears’ of civil war as Trump’s impeachment trial looms

  • Donald Trump returns to social media to tell Congress insurrection allegations ‘cannot be proven’

They will press on with a trial that will probably continue through the weekend and into next week.

The likelihood is still – overwhelmingly – that there are not enough Republican senators willing to vote against Donald Trump when it comes to the final vote.

But as long as there is uncertainty, America will watch and hold its breath.

This first day of this impeachment trial was supposed to be focused on a legal argument, about whether the trial should even be going ahead. But things aren’t that straightforward in Washington DC at the moment.

Storming the Capitol

Storming the Capitol

At stake, amid the historical reference and legal debate, was a question about America’s sacred Constitution, and whether it was constitutional to impeach a President who has already left office.

In reality, it’s impossible to work out where the theoretical element ends, and where the “what do you think of Trump?” element starts.

So the opening minutes of this legal debate were followed by a lengthy film, produced by Mr Trump’s Democrat opponents, that showed the storming of the Capitol on January 6th, from inside and out, interspersed with the shocked reaction of those within the debating chamber, the aftermath of chaotic destruction and also Mr Trump’s tweets.

“If that’s not an impeachable offence, then nothing is,” said Chuck Schumer, who leads the Democrat majority group in the Senate. He claimed that the allegations against Mr Trump were graver than any ever laid against a president.

Then came Jamie Raskin, a Democrat congressman who is leading the team of “impeachment managers” ranged against Mr Trump.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Inside wrecked Capitol building

It was he who lambasted the idea that the former president was immune from prosecution, because his term has already finished – the basis for Mr Trump’s claim that the trail is unconstitutional.

“If the president’s arguments for a January exception are upheld, even if everyone agrees that he’s culpable for these events, even if the evidence proves, as we think it definitely does, that the president incited a violent insurrection.

“On the day Congress met to finalise the presidential election he would have you believe that there is absolutely nothing that the Senate can do about it, no trial, no facts.

“He wants you to decide that the Senate is powerless at that point, that can’t be right.”

Mr Trump’s lawyers, though, were adamant that the trial was worthless. One, Bruce Castor, insisted, during a meandering address peppered with long pauses, that there was no merit in having a trial that could remove a president from office, when voters had already done so.

His colleague, David Schoen, was more vociferous.

“This trial will open up more wounds across the nation” he said. “It is an attempt to disenfranchise 74 million American voters.”

But their objections were rejected. Instead, the trial will start on Wednesday afternoon and continue, through the weekend and into next week.

Donald Trump and Melania arrived in Florida as Joe Biden's inauguration got under way
Image:Donald Trump has been in Florida since leaving office last month

Convicting the former President would need a two-thirds majority, which would require at least 17 Republican senators to vote against him.

That feels desperately unlikely. But if it did happen, the ramifications for American politics and society would, surely, be enormous.

More than 74 million people voted for Mr Trump at the last election, many backing him because of his contempt for the Washington establishment.

For him to now be convicted by that very same political establishment, and potentially banned from running for office again, would be both extraordinary and also incendiary.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *