Impeaching Trump: Senate impeachment trial will start Feb 9. Everything to know – CNET

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The House impeached Trump again — here’s what that means.


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The Senate’s impeachment trial of Former President Donald Trump will begin the week of February 8, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday, with the oral arguments beginning Tuesday, Feb. 9. The House of Representatives will deliver the single article of impeachment at 7pm ET on Monday, for “incitement of insurrection,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday — that gives both House prosecutors and Trump’s defense team time to prepare.

“The January 6th insurrection at the Capitol, incited by Donald J. Trump was a day none of us will ever forget. We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us,” Schumer said in a statement announcing the Senate’s timeline. “But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability. And that is what this trial will provide.”

It will be a historic trial on two accounts: The first time a US president has been impeached twice and the first time a former president will stand trial for impeachment after the end of his presidency. The House passed a bipartisan vote Jan. 13 for Trump’s role in encouraging the deadly riot at the US Capitol on Jan. 6. The siege of the Capitol building sought to overturn the 2020 election results and halt the process of confirming President Joe Biden as the nation’s next president. Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20.

We’ll explain what we know about how the impeachment trial could progress, what it takes to convict or acquit, what’s at stake and where the situation stands now. This story has been updated with new information.

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What will Trump’s impeachment trial be like?

With his second impeachment, Trump, who as of Jan. 20 is a private citizen, is the first president to be impeached twice and the first to be tried after leaving office.

There will be a full trial,” Schumer tweeted Friday. “There will be a fair trial.” If the former president is convicted in the Senate, there will be an additional vote “on barring him from running again,” Schumer has said.

A president — or in this case, former president — along with other officers, can be impeached for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” according to Article 2, Section 4 of the US Constitution. To impeach, a simple majority of members of the House of Representatives needs to vote to indict. 

The House prosecutes, and the Senate sits as jury. The Constitution requires the Supreme Court’s chief justice to preside over a presidential impeachment trial, although, since Trump is no longer the sitting president, it isn’t clear if Chief Justice John Roberts will be invited to oversee the trial. 

To convict, a full two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote in favor, or else the president is acquitted. Trump has an opportunity to present a defense.

Are Senate Republicans for or against Trump’s indictment?

While the impeachment resolution had unanimous support among voting House Democrats, 10 House Republicans also voted for the article, facing backlash in their own party for appearing disloyal. As the Senate waits to receive the article of impeachment, speculation begins as to which Republican senators may vote to convict. 

With the Senate split 50-50 among party lines, a substantial number of Republicans would need to vote in favor of impeachment, or else Trump would be acquitted. A separate vote to bar Trump from holding future public office — including another presidential run in 2024 — would only happen if the Senate voted to convict (Constitution Article 1, Section 3).

A president impeached in the Senate may also be disqualified from the benefits given to former presidents in the Post Presidents Act, including a pension and yearly travel allowance.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who holds tremendous sway among Republican Senators, is said to privately want Trump purged from the GOP but has not made his voting intentions public. He has said that the former president committed impeachable offenses, The New York Times reported

“The mob was fed lies,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Jan. 19. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”

Sens. Pat Toomey and Lisa Murkowski had expressed support for the idea of Trump stepping down prior to his term ending Jan. 20, but did not explicitly call for impeachment.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal told CNN he’s hopeful there will be enough votes from Republican senators because if they acquit Trump twice, “they will be judged harshly not only by history but I think by American voters.”

Despite reports, Trump did not use his presidential power to attempt to pardon himself, and did not resign. According to the US constitution, impeached presidents cannot be pardoned.

Wasn’t Trump already impeached for actions during his presidential term?

Yes. Trump was impeached in December 2019 by the House. However, the Republican-majority Senate acquitted him at the beginning of 2020 (with the process marked by a record number of tweets from Trump disparaging the impeachment effort).

His first impeachment involved articles accusing Trump of abusing power and obstructing Congress. On that occasion, the issue was Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, including a July 2019 phone call in which he appeared to be using US military aid as a bargaining chip to pressure Ukraine into investigating alleged ties between his political opponent Biden, Biden’s son Hunter and a Ukrainian gas company. The articles also charged Trump with interfering with a House inquiry into the Ukraine matter.

CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt contributed to this report.