The US Senate has found that the impeachment trial of former US President Donald Trump is constitutional, allowing full proceedings to begin. Trump’s defence team had argued that he could not face trial after leaving the White House. However, a 56-44 majority voted in favour of continuing, with a handful of Republicans backing the measure. It is worth mentioning that Trump is accused of “inciting insurrection” when Congress was stormed last month.
On February 9, a divided Senate voted to proceed with the historic second impeachment against Trump, narrowly rejecting constitutional objections after Home prosecutors opened their case with a 13-minute video capturing the Capitol riots, that left five people dead including a police officer. Thousands had gathered in support of claims that widespread electoral fraud denied Trump victory in the US presidential election. However, the former President is almost certain to be acquitted because only six Republican senators voted to move forward with impeachment, short of the 17 Republicans whose votes would be needed to convict Trump.
Lawyers for Trump argued that it was unconstitutional to put a former President through the process at all and accused Democrats of being politically motivated. It is worth noting that a two-thirds majority is required to convict Trump in the evenly split 100-seat Senate. Tuesday’s vote implies loyalty toward the former President in his party remains high enough to avoid a conviction. However, if convicted, Trump could be barred from holding office again.
According to BBC, the proceedings opened with impeachment managers arguing their attempts were legitimate. They argued that there could not be any exception to impeaching outgoing officials without risking a dangerous precedent. Lawyers for Trump, on the other hand, took the stand to outline their arguments with detailed complaints and allegations about due process and the constitutionality of proceedings. Former Pennsylvania prosecutor Bruce Castor opened the defence with a meandering presentation that was met with a critical reception by even allies of Trump.
Second lawyer, David Schoen, was, however, more pointed. He showed videos dating back to 2017 as evidence of what he labelled as an “insatiable lust for impeachment” among Democratic lawmakers. He said that what the Democrats really want to accomplish here in the name of the Constitution is to bar Donald Trump from ever running for political office again, but this is an affront to the Constitution no matter who they target. Moreover, Trump’s legal team has also said that he “will not testify” voluntarily under the oath at his impeachment trial in the Senate scheduled for next week.