The second Trump impeachment trial is set for February. What happens next?

Written by on January 24, 2021


Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to ship the article of impeachment towards Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, launching the beginning of the previous president’s trial on a cost of incitement of riot over the lethal Capitol riot. (Jan. 22) AP Home

WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial begins subsequent month, however the course of actually begins Monday, when the Home sends the article of impeachment to the Senate and each side start getting ready for a trial with many unknowns. 

The Home swiftly impeached Trump Jan. 13, charging him with inciting an riot on the U.S. Capitol the week earlier than. Within the trial, senators will vote to convict or acquit Trump.

The trial is unprecedented in almost each method doable. No president had been impeached twice, and no president has been tried by the Senate after he left workplace – a query that divides constitutional students over what’s legally permissible.

Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced the trial will start the week of Feb. Eight after each side have had time to file briefs. However a lot stays unclear on what occurs subsequent, together with what the trial will appear to be and when it’d conclude. Some have questioned whether or not the chamber even has the authority to listen to the impeachment case, as a result of Trump is now not in workplace.

Here is what we all know:

When will the trial truly begin?

Step one is the House officially transmitting its article – just like a cost – to the Senate. That’s anticipated to occur Monday at about 7 p.m. EST.

On Tuesday, senators shall be sworn in as members of the “Courtroom of Impeachment.” A summons would then be issued to Trump. The president has every week – till Feb. 2 – to reply the article, and the Home faces the identical deadline to submit its pretrial temporary.

By the next Monday, Feb. 8, the president should submit his pretrial temporary, and the Home should submit its response to the president’s reply filed the earlier week. On Feb. 9, the Home should submit its pretrial rebuttal temporary. At that time, the trial can start.

Extra: Trump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8, Senate leaders announce


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Will Justice John Roberts, or another person, preside over the trial?

One other query that would have an effect on the trial is whether or not Supreme Courtroom Chief Justice John Roberts presides. Although the Structure dictates Roberts would preside over an impeachment trial of a president, as he did throughout Trump’s first trial, it does not tackle the case of a former president – one other query that has left constitutional students divided. 

Some specialists imagine Roberts would be capable to resolve whether or not to preside over the trial, whereas others say it could be as much as the Senate.

Suzanna Sherry, constitutional law expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, who’s an authority on impeachment, referred to as it an “open query” and one thing on which the Senate ought to attempt to agree on.

Kent Greenfield, a constitutional regulation professor at Boston Faculty, argued it may go both method. “The truth is that the textual content is not clear that it could be required of him,” he mentioned.

If the chief justice does not preside, which is specified by the Structure to keep away from the political conflicts of a vp or senator overseeing the arguments, both Vice President Kamala Harris or Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Senate professional tempore, would oversee the trial. 

How lengthy may the trial final?

Lawmakers and specialists agree it is possible this trial shall be shorter than Trump’s final yr, which went on for almost three weeks.

The case towards Trump is taken into account extra open-and-shut than the fees he confronted a yr in the past the place he was accused of abusing his energy and obstructing Congress after allegations he improperly sought Ukraine’s assist to examine then-candidate Joe Biden’s household.

Biden mentioned Friday that he would not thoughts if the impeachment trial began after the Senate was in a position to affirm extra of his Cupboard nominees, given the coronavirus pandemic and different challenges his new administration faces, a place some Democratic senators have backed.

“The extra time we have now to rise up and working to fulfill theses crises, the higher,” he mentioned.

Home impeachment managers, who will act as prosecutors arguing the case earlier than the Senate, have largely stored their plans near the vest, refusing to say whether or not witnesses could be referred to as, which may prolong the trial. 

What are the implications for Trump?

If the Senate voted to convict Trump – which requires assist from not less than two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes – it could not result in quick penalties, primarily as a result of Trump already has left workplace.

“He won’t lose his safety element or different perks, as a result of the Former Presidents Act (which grants these perks) solely withholds them if the President’s service in workplace was ‘terminated’ by the impeachment and conviction,” Sherry mentioned. “Trump’s time period of workplace was terminated by the election and swearing in of Joe Biden, not by impeachment and conviction.”

Extra: Fact check: Trump loses several perks only if there’s an impeachment conviction by Jan. 20

Extra: Donald Trump impeached for ‘incitement’ of mob attack on US Capitol

The true punishment would occur after – and solely after – conviction.

With a easy majority vote (51 out of 100), the Senate may disqualify him from holding federal elective workplace sooner or later. Basically, it could forestall Trump from working once more for president, an workplace he has indicated he may pursue in 2024.

In 1974, the Home deserted impeachment after Richard Nixon resigned. However, in contrast to Trump, Nixon had already been elected twice – and subsequently ineligible to run once more under the 22nd amendment to the Constitution – so there was no have to disqualify him.

Constitutional students say this too has by no means been examined towards a president or former president and is more likely to face a authorized problem ought to senators vote to bar Trump from future workplace. 

Can a former president be convicted?


Trump impeachment: is impeachment after time period is over a chance? What is the precedent? Your impeachment questions, answered on States of America. USA TODAY

Constitutional students are cut up on whether or not a former president could be convicted – and attempting a former president has by no means been examined.

However historical past and a few precedent within the Senate helps provide a glimpse at how the query might be handled at Trump’s trial. 

All through U.S. historical past, a number of former officers have been impeached then have been tried after they’d left workplace. The Senate has acted in numerous methods however has usually taken up such trials, and there aren’t indications the chamber would act otherwise with Trump. 

Republicans and a few of Trump’s closest allies have argued that an impeachment trial for a former president would violate the Structure – an argument that’s more likely to be made by the previous president’s attorneys on the trial. 

Whereas the query hasn’t been examined for presidents, it has for different officers.

In 1876, the Senate voted on the query, when Secretary of Conflict William Belknap resigned shortly earlier than the Home impeached him. A majority of senators voted that he may nonetheless be tried. When the Senate held a trial, he was acquitted.

Sherry believes the Senate has the authorized authority to carry a trial and vote to convict in the event that they see match.

“It could defeat the aim of impeachment as a examine on authorities officers if they might keep away from it by leaving workplace,” she mentioned.

The central concern is the textual content of the Structure, which says impeachment applies to presidents, vice presidents and different “civil officers.” It does not delve into former presidents or holding an official who left workplace accountable for conduct dedicated whereas in workplace. 


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“The textual content just isn’t altogether clear. The textual content and the framers did not think about all of the completely different iterations of conditions that would come up,” Greenfield mentioned. “I feel most People assume the Structure is far more direct than it truly is. It makes use of imprecise and generalized language.” 

Greenfield mentioned the query and the unpresented nature of Trump’s case is, in a method, factor, as a result of impeachment stays uncommon all through U.S. historical past. 

“This can be a whole anomaly. It is a completely distinctive state of affairs in our historical past, fortunately,” Greenfield mentioned. “I feel this president proved himself to be traditionally aberrational, so having a traditionally aberrational treatment right here appears the course.” 

Although the Senate has largely dominated such instances of former officers might be heard earlier than the chamber, senators within the late 1700s voted towards listening to the trial of former Sen. William Blount and determined it didn’t have jurisdiction to listen to the case as a result of Blount had been expelled. 

Will sufficient Republicans vote to convict Trump?


No president has ever discovered himself so shunned and so remoted, with repercussions affecting his political legacy and his earnings potential. USA TODAY

Although Trump has been impeached twice, the instances introduced towards him and the politics surrounding them could not be extra completely different. 

In Trump’s first impeachment, not a single Home Republican voted with Democrats. This time, 10 voted to question him. Final yr throughout his first trial, just one Republican senator – Mitt Romney of Utah – voted to convict the president on both of the counts. This time, that quantity may develop to a handful or probably a dozen or extra. 

The assault on the U.S. Capitol marked the Republican Get together’s greatest break with Trump since he took workplace. A few of his closest allies condemned him, and plenty of have left open the potential of convicting him at his trial, together with the highest Republican within the chamber, Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell. 

Extra: The 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump: ‘There has never been a greater betrayal by a president’

A number of key average Republicans made searing remarks about Trump, some calling for him to resign or for the 25th Modification to be invoked to take away him earlier than he left workplace final week. 

However the group, even when they voted with Democrats, would not be sufficient to convict Trump. A supermajority is required – 67 votes – and Democrats maintain 50 seats, so 17 Republicans could be wanted if each Democrat voted in favor of convicting the previous president. 

Many on Capitol Hill imagine that if McConnell votes to convict Trump, it may open the floodgates and provide political cowl for a dozen or extra to do the identical. 

Why was Trump impeached a second time?


Donald Trump is the primary president to be impeached twice. Here is what which means for the nation. USA TODAY

The Home permitted one article of impeachment Jan. 13, charging Trump with “incitement of riot” within the assault on the U.S. Capitol this month. 

The article lays out Trump’s conduct earlier than the Jan. 6 assault, noting his “false claims of election fraud within the months main as much as the riot,” claims that he additionally made in a speech to protesters immediately earlier than a mob stormed the Capitol. 

The article additionally cites Trump’s telephone name with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger through which the previous president requested Raffensperger to “discover” votes that would assist him take the state again from Biden. 

The Home’s impeachment article argues that Trump disregarded his oath of workplace and his duties as president. 

“Trump gravely endangered the safety of the US and its establishments of Authorities,” the article of impeachment reads. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceable transition of energy, and imperiled a coequal department of Authorities. He thereby betrayed his belief as President, to the manifest damage of the individuals of the US.”

Who shall be prosecuting and defending?

The nine Democratic House lawmakers who will function prosecutors, or “managers,” within the Senate trial symbolize a mixture of seasoned palms and newer faces.

The workforce of managers shall be led by Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, who was a constitutional regulation professor at American College earlier than elected to Congress in 2016. Additionally on the workforce: David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Joaquin Castro of Texas, Diana DeGette of Colorado, Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, Ted Lieu of California, Joe Neguse of Colorado, Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Eric Swalwell of California.

“For us to heal as a nation, we should keep in mind,” Dean mentioned Friday on MSNBC. “And that’s what I imagine the trial will symbolize, a number of the very first steps towards this nation therapeutic.”

Not one of the 9 have been managers in final yr’s impeachment trial towards Trump.

Trump has has employed South Carolina lawyer Butch Bowers to symbolize him on the upcoming impeachment trial, aides mentioned. Bowers labored for the Justice Division throughout President George W. Bush’s administration however is best generally known as for his authorities work in South Carolina. He has served as counsel to Republican governors Nikki Haley and Mark Sanford, and did a stint as chairman pf South Carolina’s election fee.

Trump political adviser Jason Miller confirmed Bowers’ hiring on social media, retweeting reward of the South Carolina lawyer.

“He is good,” Miller tweeted Thursday. “Excellent.”

Contributing: David Jackson

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