House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday announced that she will send the article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, beginning a process that will lead to his second Senate trial.
The House approved the measure a week before Trump left office, charging him with incitement of insurrection, related to the deadly riot and occupation of the Capitol by his supporters on Jan. 6. Ten Republicans joined the Democratic majority in voting for the resolution.
“There will be a trial,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday in a speech on the Senate floor. “It will be a full trial. It will be a fair trial.
“Senators will have to decide if they believe Donald John Trump incited the insurrection against the United States.”
Trump is the first president ever to be impeached twice, and the first to face an impeachment trial after leaving office. A conviction — which would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate — would be mostly symbolic at this point, but the Senate could vote to bar him from holding federal office again, ruling out a return to the presidency in 2024.
While the transmission of the article to the Senate sets in motion the preparations for a trial, the exact timing remains up in the air.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had proposed delaying the start of Trump’s impeachment trial until February to give the former president time to prepare his defense.
The Biden administration has signaled it will leave the timing of a trial up to Congress, but does not want it to interfere with the new president’s agenda, such as confirming his Cabinet nominees or the next round of coronavirus relief.
Trump began to assemble his defense team this week, hiring South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers, who previously served as counsel to former South Carolina Govs. Nikki Haley and Mark Sanford, both Republicans. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said he would not be able to represent the former president at the trial, citing his own participation in the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol.
Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who assisted in Trump’s defense last year in his first impeachment trial, also declined to participate, calling it a “show trial” and telling the Boston Globe that “this is political theater, and I’m neither a politician nor an actor.”
Trump’s ever-shifting relationships with Senate Republicans will play a big role in the outcome. With the Senate tied 50-50, at least 17 Republicans would have to join all the Democrats to clear the bar for conviction. McConnell, who has had an apparent falling-out with Trump over the ex-president’s efforts to overturn the results of the election, has said he is undecided and told his GOP colleagues that it will be a vote of conscience.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned fellow Senate Republicans earlier this week that the party would take revenge on those who vote against the former president.
“If you’re wanting to erase Donald Trump from the party, you’re going to get erased,” Graham said Wednesday on Fox News.
That’s a remarkable change from hours after the riot, when Graham said on the Senate floor that his relationship with Trump had come to an end.
“Trump and I, we’ve had a hell of a journey. I hate it to end this way,” Graham said. “But today, first thing you’ll see — all I can say is count me out. Enough is enough.”
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