Senate to begin second Trump impeachment trial this week

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The Senate will kick off the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump this week, with Democrats pushing forward despite little-to-no GOP support for the effort.

The trial is expected to last no more than a week, as is preferred by both Democrats and Republicans in the body.

On Tuesday, House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), will debate Trump’s attorneys, David Schoen and Bruce Castor, on the constitutionality of the trial itself.

The trial marks the first time a former president has been tried for impeachment, though Trump was still in office when the House impeached him.

That fact has raised considerable objections by Republicans over whether the trial itself is constitutional.

Starting Wednesday, each side will be given 16 hours to present their case.

Debate and a vote will also be permitted on whether to allow witnesses.

In the 2019 impeachment effort, then-Majority Leader McConnell declined Democratic requests to include witnesses.

The House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump one week to the day after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Democrats filed a single article of impeachment, charging the president with “incitement of an insurrection.”

Republicans have largely slammed the impeachment effort as partisan and unconstitutional.

Democrats hold a slight majority in the 50-50 split Senate by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, meaning they would need 17 Republicans to cross the aisle and vote to convict Trump, which appears less and less likely with time.

Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said there was “zero chance of conviction” when the trial reached the Senate this week.

“Forty-five Republicans have said it’s not even a legitimate proceeding so it’s really over before it starts,” he continued, referencing the 45 Republican senators who voted in support of his motion to dismiss the trial on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), known as one of Trump’s most vocal allies, said history will judge the former president’s action in the Capitol siege — but the Senate should not.

“Well, I mean, he’s going to have a place in history for all of this, but the point of the matter is that we’re in Congress, we’re not prosecutors. Impeachment was never meant to be a prosecution,” Graham said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), meanwhile, called the impeachment trial a “partisan exercise” and suggested that there might be another way to hold the former president accountable.

“If being held accountable means being impeached by the House and being convicted by the Senate, the answer to that is no,” Wicker said​ on ABC News’ “This Week.”​ “Now if there are other ways in the court of public opinion or if there’s some criminal charge … dawns on some prosecutor, perhaps, there’s another avenue there.”​

Lawmakers on the right have also used the fact of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ refusal to preside over the proceedings as an argument against its constitutionality.

“The Constitution says two things about impeachment — it is a tool to remove the officeholder, and it must be presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,” Sen. Paul (R-Ky.) wrote in an op-ed last month for The Hill.

“Neither one of those things will happen. President Trump is gone, and Justice John Roberts, properly noticing the absence of an officeholder being impeached, is declining to preside.”

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