WASHINGTON – The Senate will begin proceedings on Tuesday in an unprecedented second impeachment of Donald Trump.
The former president has been accused of incitement to rebellion, allegedly calling on his supporters to oppose lawmakers gathered in the Capitol to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in last year’s presidential election.
The protest turned into chaos when some 800 Trump supporters broke into the Capitol, smashed windows and doors, ransacked several offices, and clashed with police.
Currently, the Senate seats are split exactly in half: 50 for Democrats and 50 for Republicans.
Given that it takes a two-thirds majority to find Trump guilty, at least 17 Republican senators must oppose him.
In this situation, Trump will almost certainly be acquitted, as he was a year ago when he was accused of trying to persuade the Ukrainian president to find incriminating evidence on Biden ahead of the presidential elections in November last year.
In any case, Trump became the first president in more than two centuries of US history to be impeached twice.
A week after the storming of the Capitol, the House of Representatives voted to accuse Trump of “inciting mutiny.” Then this decision was supported by 232 congressmen, 197 voted against, and among those who voted for there were 222 Democrats and 10 Republicans.
Then, on January 20, Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, and Trump flew on the presidential plane to the Atlantic coast of Florida, where his mansion is located and where he has remained since then.
Trump turned down the Democrats’ offer to testify in his defense at the impeachment hearings and is not expected to attend. The proceedings may take a week or even longer.
Trump is accused of inciting mutiny in the wake of his supporters’ invasion of the Capitol.
Earlier, he called on his supporters to gather in Washington on January 6, stating it would be a “tumultuous” event. At a rally outside the White House, Trump urged them to march towards the Capitol and “in a peaceful and patriotic manner” make their “voices heard.”
At the same time, he said: “Our country is already fed up with this. We will not tolerate this anymore, that is the whole point. If you use a favorite phrase that you all actually came up with, we will stop the theft! And we will fight. We will fight with all our might, because if you don’t fight with all your might, you will no longer have a country. ”
Nine House Democrats, who will serve as prosecutors, will try to convince the Senate to convict Trump and bar him from holding public office.
In previously filed documents, Trump’s defense said the Senate does not have the necessary constitutional powers to prosecute the former president as he has already left office and is now a private citizen.
This argument would allow Republicans to vote against a conviction without directly defending Trump’s aggressive rhetoric.
Trump’s lawyers also suggested that he simply took advantage of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech when challenging the election results. According to lawyers, he unequivocally urged his supporters to participate in the peaceful protest.
In January, the Senate attempted to dismiss the case on the grounds that it was unconstitutional to try the former president. This initiative was supported by 45 of the 50 Republican senators.
On Monday, the impeachment managers filed the following statement with the Senate: “The evidence for President Trump’s behavior is overwhelming. He has no valid excuse for these actions. And his attempts to avoid responsibility are completely unsuccessful. Under the impeachment article, President Trump broke his oath and betrayed the American people. His incitement to mutiny against the United States government, which disrupted the peaceful transfer of power, is the worst constitutional crime ever committed by a president. ”
“There should be no doubt that such behavior is categorically unacceptable,” their statement goes on to say. “In a trial, the House of Representatives will prove that President Trump deserves a conviction and disqualification, barring him from holding any honorary, confidential, or paid office in the United States.”
The team of accusers will be led by Congressman Jamie Ruskin. In addition, Diana Degett, David Cichilline, Joaquin Castro, Eric Swalwell, Ted Liu, Stacy Plaskett, Madeleine Dean and Joe Neguse will act as impeachment managers.