The next phase of the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump is set to be launched next week when the Senate receives the charges against him from the House of Representatives accusing him of instigating the January 6 storming of the Capitol by his supporters, Democratic Party’s Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday.
He said on the Senate floor that the Articles of Impeachment, as the charges heet voted by the House on January 13 is known, will be sent by the House to the Senate on Monday, paving the way for the judicial-style trial of Trump.
At the impeachment trial, two-thirds of the Senators acting as jurors will have to vote to convict Trump.
The Senate is divided equally with each party having 50 members and the Democrats will have to get 17 Republicans to defect on the issue if Trump is to be convicted.
The first impeachment failed last year when the Democrats could not get the two-thirds vote.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi ceremoniously signed the document that accuses him of instigating an insurrection in his speech to supporters before Congress was to begin the ratification of the electoral college votes confirming Joe Biden as the President-elect. He is also accused of questioning the legitimacy to Biden’s election.
But she has held off sending the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate till the Democrats can exert control over the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris presiding over it with a casting vote.
After Trump’s speech urging them to march to Congress, a section of his supporters forced their way into the Capitol building while the process of counting the votes was in progress and broke into the Senate chamber and Pelosi’s office.
Republican Party’s Senate Leader Mitch McConnell asked for a two-week delay to allow Trump to prepare his defence.
Schumer, who has not agreed so far, said: “The Senate will conduct a trial on the impeachment of Donald Trump. It will be a fair trial. But make no mistake, there will be a trial.”
He did not say when the trial will begin. The Democrats would want a quick trial and put away the issue as they will have to move quickly on confirming the high-level appointments made by Biden and move his agenda forward.
McConnell and some Republicans have blamed Trump for the riot which left five people dead, including a police officer.
McConnell said in the Senate on Tuesday: “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence” to stop a function of the Congress.
But he has yet to indicate if he would vote to convict. Many Republicans have said that the impeachment will only deepen the polarisation of the country.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)