Trump impeachment: What to expect in the Senate trial

What to expect at the Senate trial of Trump impeachment

The impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump will begin Tuesday in the U.S. Senate.

Trump, the only president in U.S. history to be impeached for a second time, is facing charges stemming from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

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Trump was impeached by the House on Jan. 13, a week to the day after the riot and without anything that would usually accompany an impeachment, such as hearings or witness testimony.

The House passed a single article of impeachment on grounds of incitement to insurrection. The article of impeachment was delivered to the Senate on Jan. 25.

Once the article was delivered, the impeachment trial was triggered.

Here is what is expected to happen:

Starting Tuesday

On Tuesday, the trial starts. Once it begins, the Senate will work six days a week, gathering at noon every day (unless the trial organizers agree to different rules) and working until at least 7 p.m. each night.

Senators are required to sit quietly without distractions. Cell phones will not be allowed on the Senate floor.

Beginning at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, four hours will be equally divided between the president’s attorneys and the House impeachment managers to debate whether the Senate has the jurisdiction to try a former U.S. president.

After the four hours of debate, the Senate will vote on the constitutionality of the trial. It will take 51 votes, a simple majority, to decide that question.

If there are 51 votes to proceed, the trial will continue on Wednesday beginning at noon ET. Each side would then have 16 hours to present its case. According to the rules agreed upon by Senate leaders from both parties, the presentation of the cases cannot go on more than two days and each day’s presentation cannot go on beyond eight hours.

When the presentations are completed, there will be four hours, divided equally between the parties for senators to ask questions about the presentations. Follow the questioning time, another four hours will be divided equally for arguments as to whether witnesses and documents will be subpoenaed in order to bolster the case.

After the question of witnesses has been argued, there will be a vote on whether to allow the witnesses and documents or not.

After that vote, if no witnesses are subpoenaed, then there will be up to four hours equally divided for closing arguments.

Following that, a vote on impeachment will be held.

Who are the prosecutors and what are they saying?

The nine House members who will present the case – known as the House managers – are Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who will lead the team; Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado; Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island; Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas; Rep. Eric Swalwell of California; Rep. Ted Lieu of California; Delegate Stacey Plaskett, from the Virgin Islands; Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania; and Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado.

Last week, the Democrats released an 80-page document laying out their case against Trump. The House managers claim that Trump holds the “singular responsibility for that tragedy,” meaning the loss of life that followed the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

According to the document filed by the House prosecutors, “President Trump has demonstrated beyond doubt that he will resort to any method to maintain or reassert his grip on power. A president who violently attacks the democratic process has no right to participate in it.”

The prosecutors also refuted the claim Trump’s lawyers will make that it is unconstitutional to impeach a former president.

“There is no ‘January exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution,” the managers wrote. “A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last.”

Who are Trump’s lawyers and what are they saying?

Bruce Castor, Jr., and David Schoen will be defending Trump.

Castor is the former district attorney for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and was involved in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case. Castor originally made the decision not to prosecute Cosby on assault charges. Cosby was later prosecuted and found guilty of indecent assault. He was sentenced to prison.

Schoen worked for Trump’s friend Roger Stone for a period of time, and for Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender who was found dead in his prison cell before he could be prosecuted for other sex crimes.

A pre-trial brief submitted Monday listed a third lawyer, Michael van der Veen.

Trump’s lawyers, in a 78-page filing, said he was not responsible for the Capitol riot and he did not intend to interfere with the formal counting of Electoral College ballots that showed President Biden’s election win.

Likewise, the brief states that the Senate does not have the authority to try a private citizen.

In a 14-page filing prior to the trial, they argue that Trump’s speech, in particular the words, “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” is protected by his First Amendment right of free speech. The document also says Trump was not urging the crowd to physical violence, but “the need to fight for election security in general.”

“The actions by the House make clear that in their opinion the 45th President does not enjoy the protections of liberty upon which this great Nation was founded, where free speech, and indeed, free political speech form the backbone of all American liberties,” the defense lawyers wrote.

Will Trump be convicted and what happens if he is?

For Trump to be convicted, 67 senators would have to vote against him. The Senate now stands at 50 Democratic senators and 50 Republican senators. That means that every Democrat would have to vote for conviction and 17 Republicans would have to join with them to convict Trump on the charge.

It is unlikely that 17 Republicans will side with the Democrats to convict.

If he is convicted would he be able to run for office again?

Barring Trump from running again for public office requires a separate vote after the vote for conviction.

If 51 senators agree, Trump will be barred from ever holding public office again.