The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday handed over to the Senate an indictment accusing former President Donald Trump of inciting rebellion in a speech to his supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, and initiating his second trial.
Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors at the trial, after the clerk and acting sergeant at gunpoint, carried the written charge through the Capitol Rotunda and to the Senate and followed the same path that a crowd of Trump supporters took on January 6 when they collided with police.
The Senate is expected to begin a trial on February 9 on the article on the prosecution of Trump.
The 100 senators will serve as jurors in proceedings that could lead to Trump’s disqualification from serving as president again.
Ten House Republicans joined the Democrats in voting to accuse Trump on January 13. The Senate Democrats will need the support of 17 Republicans to convict him in the Senate, a steep rise given continued allegiance to Trump among the Republican Party’s conservative electorate.
Democrat Patrick Leahy, the Senate’s longest-serving member, said Monday he will lead the trial.
Although the Constitution calls on the United States’ highest justice to preside over the president’s accusations, a senator presides over when the accused are not the current president, a Senate source said. First elected to the House in 1974, Leahy, 80, holds the title of Senate President pro tempore.
Supreme Court Justice John Roberts led the trial when the Senate, controlled by Trump’s Republicans, acquitted Trump in February 2020 on charges of abuse of power and obstacles to Congress following his request that Ukraine investigate President Joe Biden and his son.
Leahy will still be able to vote in the trial, an assistant said, noting that senators are still voting on all issues as they preside over the House.
Some Republicans questioned the arrangement. “How does a senator, as a judge, preside and also act as a jury member?” Republican Senator John Cornyn asked on Twitter.
A number of Republican lawmakers have opposed the accusation, with some claiming it would be a violation of the Constitution to hold a trial now that Trump no longer serves as president.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, rejected this argument on Monday.
“The theory that the Senate cannot try former officials would amount to a constitutional card for imprisonment for all presidents,” Schumer told the Senate.
Trump is the only US president to have been charged twice by the House and will be the first to face trial after leaving office. He left the office on January 20.
A divided Senate
The Senate is divided 50-50, with Democrats holding a majority due to the incessant vote for Vice President Kamala Harris. Senate leaders on Friday agreed to postpone the trial for two weeks to give Trump more time to prepare a defense and allow the House to focus on Biden’s early priorities, including government appointments.
The contest focuses on Trump’s speeches to supporters in a grassy area near the White House just before a crowd stormed the Capitol, disrupting the formal certification of Biden’s victory over Trump in the Nov. 3 election, sending lawmakers to hide and leaving five people dead, including a police officer. .
During his speech, Trump reiterated his false claims that the election was directed at him with widespread voting fraud and irregularities. He urged his supporters to march on the Capitol and told them to “stop stealing”, “show strength”, “fight much harder” and use “very different rules.”
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and other lawmakers in the party have condemned the violence, and some have accused Trump of encouraging it. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney told CNN on Sunday that the trial was necessary because of Trump’s inflammatory call to his supporters.
A poll by Reuters / Ipsos on Friday showed that 51% of Americans thought the Senate would judge Trump and break largely along party lines.