House Democrats presented an article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday night, kicking off proceedings for an unprecedented second trial that could have major consequences for the former president’s future political prospects.
Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, one of nine House Democrats named as prosecutors in the upcoming trial, read the article of impeachment on the Senate floor. In his address, Raskin quoted from Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which he said “prohibits any person who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States from holding any office under the United States.”
“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government,” the article of impeachment says. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transfer of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government.
“He thereby betrayed his trust as president to the manifest injury of the people of the United States, wherefore, Donald John Trump has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law,” the article adds.
Trump will stand trial weeks after the House voted to impeach him on a single count of “incitement of insurrection.” Critics argued his challenge of the 2020 election results provoked his supporters to overrun the Capitol. If Trump is convicted on the impeachment charge, the Senate could proceed with a second vote to bar Trump from holding political office in the future, effectively scuttling aspirations for a 2024 run.
The impeachment trial will proceed on a schedule crafted through an agreement between newly minted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Senate members will be sworn into their roles in the impeachment trial on Tuesday.
At that point, both the House members selected as prosecutors and Trump’s defense team will have two weeks to craft their legal briefs and arguments. The trial itself is slated to begin on Tuesday, Feb. 9, weeks after Trump’s final day in office.
Trump is the only president in history to be impeached twice and the only former president subjected to an impeachment trial following his exit from office. Trump was acquitted in his first impeachment trial on charges that he abused the power of his office by allegedly pressuring Ukraine to aid his re-election bid.
Butch Bowers, a prominent South Carolina attorney known for defending state Republicans, will anchor Trump’s second impeachment defense team. Aside from Raskin, The nine House Democrats chosen to prosecute the case include Rep. Eric Swalwell and Rep. Ted Lieu, both of California.
A total of 10 House Republicans joined in with Democrats to vote in favor of impeachment. In order to convict Trump on the charge in a Senate trial, at least 17 Republicans would have to cross party lines to vote with Democrats.
According to impeachment rules, two-thirds of sitting Senate members must vote in favor of the article of impeachment in order to convict the defendant. A second vote seeking to bar Trump from holding political office would require a simple majority to pass.
While many Republican senators were publicly critical of Trump following the Capitol riot, it’s unclear if a sufficient number of them would vote in favor of his conviction. Several GOP senators support the claim that any effort to impeach a former president is unconstitutional, Politico reported.
Schumer pushed back on those claims in remarks on the Senate floor Monday afternoon.
“This argument has been roundly debunked from constitutional scholars from the left, right and center,” Schumer said. “It defies precedent, historic practice and basic common sense. It makes no sense whatsoever that a president or any official could commit a heinous crime against our country and then defeat Congress’ impeachment powers by simply resigning.”
Schumer pledged that the Senate would “conduct a timely and fair trial” that would not interfere with other business, such as consideration of another round of coronavirus pandemic-related relief measures.