Earlier this month, Mr. Trump became the first President in history to be impeached twice – on January 13 this year and in December 2019, when he was impeached on charges of abuse of power
Democrats of the U.S. House of Representatives delivered charges of “incitement of insurrection” against former President Donald Trump to their Senate colleagues, clearing the way for his trial by the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress. With enthusiasm waning among the GOP, it is far from clear that Senate Democrats will get the required minimum of 17 GOP Senate votes to convict the former president of inciting his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Also read: Explained: How Trump could be impeached again, but faster
Earlier this month, Mr. Trump became the first President in history to be impeached twice – on January 13 this year and in December 2019, when he was impeached on charges of abuse of power with regard to leveraging the relationship with Ukraine to gain political favours and the obstruction of Congress in the ensuing investigation.
On Monday, a group of Democratic Representatives who will act as prosecutors in the trial, participated in a ceremonial walk across to the Senate to hand over the charges. Representative Jamie Raskin addressed the Senate, saying, “Donald John Trump had engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by inciting violence against the government of the United States.”
Chief Justice John Roberts will not preside over Mr Trump’s trial as he had done last year , because Mr Trump is no longer in office. Instead, the senior most Democrat in the Senate, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, will preside over the impeachment.
Also read: Explained | Donald Trump impeached. What next?
If Mr Trump is convicted by the Senate, he could be barred from holding public office again – ending the possibility of a 2024 run.
A total of 27 GOP senators had opposed charging Mr Trump, 16 said they were undecided and seven did not respond , according to a survey by the New York Times – this is in contrast to early last year when the Senate was almost fully split along party lines in the final vote on conviction.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – who had initially rallied behind Mr Trump in his quest to challenge the election results – has expressed an openness to convicting the former president this time. Other Republican Senators, however, questioned the constitutionality of impeaching an ex-president.
Mr Trump, who won close to 75 million votes in the presidential election – a record for any incumbent – has the potential to remain a powerful force in the Republican party. Over the weekend, one of Trump’s aides told some Republican senators that the former president intended to stay within the GOP and not float a new party, Politico reported. Going against Mr Trump by voting to convict, could result in tough primary (intra-party) elections for Senators if Mr Trump backs their challengers.
Trump launches office
Also on Monday, Mr Trump’s team announced the establishment of the ‘ Office of the Former President’ to manage Mr. Trump’s “ correspondence, public statements, appearances, and official activities to advance the interests of the United States and to carry on the agenda of the Trump Administration through advocacy, organizing, and public activism.”
The former President, who has been suspended by Twitter and Facebook has been uncharacteristically quiet since he left Washington DC last Wednesday.
Trial ‘has to happen’: Biden
Mr Biden told CNN that the trial “ has to happen,” although he did not believe 17 Republican senators would vote to convict Mr Trump. The new President is hoping to push forward with his agenda – a $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus, immigration reform and the confirmation of his cabinet picks.
The trial is likely to begin week of February 8 – giving both sides time to build their arguments or collect evidence for the trial and allowing more time for some of the new administration’s work to get underway.
The Senate confirmed Janet Yellen to the position of Treasury Secretary on Monday. It had already confirmed Lloyd Austin as Defense Secretary and Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence last week.