Trump´s impeachment: What happened on the first day and what is next?
The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump began on Tuesday, but what happens next and will Trump be found guilty in the Senate?
The historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump officially began on Tuesday 9 February as all 100 United States senators took their places in Congress. The trial is also unique in that it takes place in the very location where the 6 January riots took place, and involves those who were witness to the events.
The articles of impeachment were brought by House impeachment managers who will act as prosecutors for the case against Trump, who has assembled a new legal team to fight the accusations. The senators will act as jurors and take part in the final vote once the trial has been concluded.
What happened during the first day of Trump’s trial?
Probably the most important part of the first day of the Senate impeachment trial was a vote on the validity of the trial itself with the former President’s lawyers arguing that, because impeachment is usually intended to remove someone from office, could not be used after the accused has already left.
However the impeachment managers dismissed this argument, pointing out that this would set a precedent of a “January exception”, during which time an outgoing president’s actions are essentially exempt from prosecution.
The vote finished 56-44 in favour of proceeding with the trial. This will go down as a win for those who believe Trump should be impeached, but does suggest that it is unlikely to happen. The final trial vote will require a two-thirds majority to convict Trump, which would require at least 11 Republicans to switch sides.
Also on show in the first day of trial was a graphic visual record of the Capitol Hill attacks that was presented by the House impeachment managers. The 13-minute video combined footage of the rioters entering the buildings of Congress with comments made by Trump earlier that same day. The video included a tweet from Trump, posted hours after the attack had taken place, calling for his supporters to “Remember this day forever”.
What next for Trump’s impeachment trial?
On Wednesday afternoon the President’s defence lawyers will formally being their arguments asserting that Trump was not to blame for the violent acts that took place little more than a month ago. He is charged with “incitement of insurrection” in the article of impeachment and his legal team will look to dismiss the link between his comments and the storming of the Capitol.
Both the prosecution and the defence will be given 16 hours in which to present their case to the Senate, with a full day put aside for senators, who are acting as jurors in the trial, to ask any questions they may have.
The trial will then conclude with closing arguments from either side, before the matter is put to a vote in the Upper House. It is thought that the Democrats will get the trial finished before the end of the week so not to take up too much valuable Senate time at a key moment in Biden’s young presidency. However if not concluded by Saturday there are plans for a rare Sunday session to bring the case to a close.