Donald Trump: Expert discusses new impeachment trial lawyers
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Donald Trump’s impeachment began with disturbing video footage showing the violence amid the attack on the US Capitol building on January 6. The former US president is facing a single charge of “incitement to insurrection” after delivering a speech to supporters ahead of the deadly riot. Mr Trump’s team has called the trial “political theatre”, but what exactly will happen next in these proceedings?
What has happened so far?
The second impeachment of Donald Trump, the 45th US president, began just one week after a violent mob stormed the US Capitol building in Washington DC.
Supporters of Mr Trump breached the Capitol building from a preceding rally held at the White House after he repeated claims of election fraud.
Lawmakers were working to certify the US election vote from November and confirm Joe Biden’s win.
The attack resulted in the death of four rioters and one Capitol police officer.
The House introduced one article of impeachment against Mr Trump for his role in whipping up a mob that stormed the Capitol on January 11.
The House passed a resolution the next day, calling on the former vice president Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to strip Mr Trump of his powers.
Mr Pence refused to invoke the 25th Amendment.
On January 13, the House passed the article of impeachment for Mr Trump for a second time with 232 voting in favour of impeaching him.
In total, 197 voted against the impeachment.
Mr Trump’s first term ended on January 20 and Mr Biden was sworn in as the next US leader at midday.
House managers delivered the article of impeachment to the Senate on January 25.
Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the Senate president pro tempore, was sworn in to preside over the trial on January 26.
All 100 senators swore an impeachment oath to “do impartial justice.”
The Senate then voted narrowly to table or kill the Republican effort to dismiss the trial as unconstitutional because Mr Trump is no longer in office.
All Republican Senators voted against moving forward with the trial, apart from five.
The Senate issued a summons to the former president, asking him to respond to the article of impeachment by February 2.
On February 2, the House impeachment managers filed an 80-page document brief within which they argued Mr Trump was “singularly responsible” for the Capitol attack.
The document further cited the US Constitution’s framers in urging Mr Trump be convicted and banned from holding office ever again.
Mr Trump’s defence team filed a 14-page response on the same day, within which they denied he had incited the deadly breach on the US Capitol building.
The defence document additionally argued the Senate had no power to try Mr Trump now he is a private citizen.
The House impeachment managers issued Mr Trump with a request to testify under oath on February 4, but this was quickly rejected by his lawyers.
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What happens next?
Monday, February 8
Mr Trump’s defence team filed a 78-page document calling the impeachment efforts “political theatre”. The House managers responded to the memo rebutting these claims and the attempt to dismiss the charge.
Tuesday, February 9
The Senate passed a resolution on the rules and procedures governing the trial.
The House prosecution and Mr Trump’s defence teams are both given four hours to debate the validity of the impeachment in terms of the constitution.
Senators will then hold a vote to proceed with the trial.
The vote must achieve a simple majority for the impeachment to move to the next stage.
The vote on the trial is expected to win a majority, but if it did not the impeachment process would simply end at this point.
However, if the majority of the Senate does vote in favour of continuing the impeachment process, the next step is oral arguments.
At the oral arguments stage, the House manager and Mr Trump’s defence team present their cases.
Each side is given up to 16 hours over two days to present their arguments.
The Senate will likely sit over Saturday and Sunday to speed up this part of the process.
After each side has completed the oral arguments, Senators have up to four hours to question both parties.
If the managers request witnesses, the Senate will debate and then vote on whether to consider motions to subpoena witnesses and documents.
Once this step has been completed, each side is permitted to offer a closing statement which can last up to four hours in total.
At this point, deliberation begins and Senators decide how they want to vote on the article of impeachment.
The Senate will then vote on the article of impeachment – where a two-thirds majority is needed for conviction.
If less than two-thirds of the Senate vote yes on the article of impeachment, Mr Trump is acquitted and the Senate may consider other motions such as censure.
If a censure motion is brought to a vote, a majority is required.
However, if two-thirds of the Senate vote in support of the article of impeachment, Mr Trump is convicted.
The Senate may then vote on whether to bar Mr Trump from ever holding office again.
A majority vote is needed on this motion for it to pass.
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