Former US President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial began on Tuesday, 9 February, in the United States’ Senate, with the House voting 56-44 in favour of its constitutionality, effectively blocking a bid by the former president’s lawyers to argue that he cannot be tried by lawmakers, reported news agency AFP.
While a modest six Republicans sided with the 50 Democrats in the constitutionality vote, it became clear that it would be difficult to secure a conviction for the former president.
A two-thirds majority is needed in the Senate for the impeachment, implying that Democrats would need the support of at least 17 Republicans.
The main trial is scheduled to start on Wednesday and Tuesday’s proceedings were mainly to determine whether the Senate was allowed to hold Trump’s trial, as the Constitution is silent on this question.
WHAT HAPPENED ON TUESDAY?
According to CBS News, the House managers argued that not holding Trump’s impeachment trial would allow for a “January exception,” using which former presidents escape being held accountable for their actions in the last bit of their term.
Tuesday’s proceedings opened with a video timeline of the events of 6 January, showing Trump’s supporters chanting slogans and storming the Capitol, where the electoral votes were being certified, as well as the then president’s speech earlier during the day, when he called for them to "fight like hell."
"If that's not an impeachable offence, then there is no such thing," lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin said after the end of the video, reported AFP.
The trial will continue on Wednesday, and the Democratic managers will be given eight hours to present the case against Trump. Both sides will be given two days to present their arguments, after which the Senate will consider possible witnesses. A final vote will be held only after that and the senators will meet every day till they reach a verdict.
ABOUT THE TRIAL
Trump is not only the first US president to be impeached twice, but this is the first time an impeachment trial is being held against a former president.
The trial will hear allegations of the “high crimes and misdemeanours” he engaged in before leaving office in January. The former president is accused of 'inciting insurrection' in connection with the storming of the US Capitol on 6 January.
Last month, on 13 January, the US House of Representatives voted on the impeachment resolution against Trump, making him the only president in history to be impeached twice. The House voted 232 to 197.
The former president will reportedly be represented by advocates David Schoen and Bruce L Castor, who argued in their brief that the said speech did not amount to a call to storm the Capitol and that the trial is “constitutionally flawed” because he has already left office.
(With inputs from AFP, CBS News and The Guardian)