Domain Registration | Trump impeachment article to be sent to Senate, triggering first-ever trial of a former president

  • January 26, 2021
  • Nancy Pelosi is set to send a single article of
    impeachment to Senate, formally triggering the impeachment trial against Trump.
  • It’s set to be the first-ever impeachment trial of
    a former president.
  • Trump stands accused of inciting the riot at the US
    Capitol, which left five people dead.

Washington – US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set
to send the Senate a single article of impeachment on Monday accusing Donald
Trump of inciting the Capitol riot, formally triggering the first-ever
impeachment trial of a former president.

Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, vowed last
week that the trial – already scheduled to open in the second week of February –
should proceed, saying: “I don’t think it will be long, but we must do

But Republican lawmakers signalled over the weekend
that Democrats may struggle to secure Trump’s conviction over the storming of
US legislative buildings earlier this month, which left five people dead.

Senior figures in Trump’s party have pushed back
with both political and constitutional arguments, raising doubts that Democrats
– who control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber – can secure the 17 Republican
votes to reach the two-thirds majority needed to convict.

“I think the trial is stupid. I think it’s
counterproductive. We already have a flaming fire in this country and it’s like
taking a bunch of gasoline and pouring it on top,” Marco Rubio, the top
Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Fox News on Sunday.

He acknowledged that Trump – who had urged
thousands of his supporters to flock to Washington and protest the
congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory – “bears some
responsibility for what happened”.

But to “stir it up again” could only hurt
the country, said Rubio, a presidential candidate beaten by Trump in the 2016

Constitutional question

Other Republicans argued that the Senate has no
authority to put a private citizen – as Trump now is – on trial.

Senator Mike Rounds told NBC’s Meet the Press
that the constitution does not allow for the impeachment of a former president.

But Senator Mitt Romney, the Republicans’ 2012
presidential candidate and a frequent Trump critic, told CNN that “the
preponderance of legal opinion is that an impeachment trial after a president
has left office is constitutional. I believe that’s the case.”

The Utah Republican – the only member of his party
to vote to convict Trump in his first impeachment trial – hinted that he may be
leaning the same way now.

He said he believed “that what is being
alleged and what we saw, which is incitement to insurrection, is an impeachable
offense. If not, what is?”

The Capitol riots were documented on videos seen
around the world – as were Trump’s earlier exhortations to the crowd to
“fight” for his presidency – complicating his defence.

His case may have suffered further after The New
York Times reported on Friday that Trump had considered ousting the US acting
attorney general in favour of a low-ranking official receptive to his efforts
to overturn the election result.

Hands-off approach

Biden has publicly taken a hands-off approach to
the impeachment, eager to put Trump in the rear-view mirror and seek progress
on fighting the coronavirus pandemic and reviving a devastated economy.

Biden spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the
president “believes that it’s up to the Senate and Congress to determine
how they will hold the former president accountable”.

As Democrats worked to prepare the case against
Trump, one of those who will present it in the Senate – Representative
Madeleine Dean – said she hoped it would move quickly.

“I would expect it would go faster” than
the 2020 impeachment trial, which lasted 21 days, she told CNN.

The trial, however, will be a test for senators:
Democrats hope to devote part of each day to regular business, but the furies
always surrounding Trump seem sure to undercut any bid for bipartisan

‘Extraordinarily heinous presidential crime’

Dean said she was in the House chamber during the
“terrifying moment” when the invading mob began pounding on its
doors, chanting: “Hang Vice President Pence.”

She said Democrats would demand accountability of
Trump for “an extraordinarily heinous presidential crime”.

And Daniel Goldman, who was lead counsel for the
House’s first impeachment inquiry, tweeted on Sunday that “the only way to
ensure this lawless, authoritarian, anti-democratic conduct never happens again
is to hold him accountable”.

The House of Representatives impeached Trump for a
historic second time on 13 January, just one week before he left office.

The article of impeachment will be delivered and
read out to the Senate on Monday at 19:00 (00:00 GMT Tuesday). The chamber’s
100 members will be sworn in as trial jurors the next day.

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