After deadly riot on Capitol Hill, Trump impeachment trial will open with fight against Constitution

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Band Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON, February 9 (Reuters)The historic second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, accused of inciting the murderous storming of the Capitol last month, opens Tuesday with a debate over the constitutionality of trying a president after he leaves office.

Hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6 after a heated speech in which the then president repeated his false claims that his election defeat on November 3 was the result of widespread fraud and urged them to “fight like hell (or) you” you will have no more country. “

The unprecedented scene, in which members of the mob attacked police, sent lawmakers scrambling for safety and briefly delayed Congress to officially certify President Joe Biden’s victory, came after Trump passed two months to challenge the election results. Five died, including a Capitol police officer.

The Senate trial follows the fourth impeachment of a president in US history. But he is different from all the others in that Trump is the only president to have been impeached twice by the House of Representatives. He is also the only ex-president to face a Senate trial.

The trial could provide clues to the leadership of the Republican Party after Trump’s tumultuous presidency. Clear divisions have emerged between Trump loyalists and those hoping to move the party in a new direction.

Trump’s lawyers plan to open the trial on Tuesday questioning whether the U.S. Constitution allows the Senate to hold an impeachment trial for a president after he leaves office.

Most Senate Republicans adopted this argument, which strongly suggests that Democrats will be unable to garner the two-thirds majority needed to convict the 100-member Senate. Democrats and many jurists reject the constitutional interpretation of Republicans.

Senate Democrats are expected to win in Tuesday’s vote on the constitutionality of the trial. An effort to block the trial on these grounds was defeated 55-45 last month.

A prominent US impeachment expert cited by Trump’s lawyers in a brief advancing their argument on Monday accused the team of misrepresenting its work “seriously enough”.

A group of nine House Democratic impeachment officials will pursue the case. They accused Trump of betraying the country and the Constitution by instigating acts of violence after falsely claiming that the presidential election was “stolen” from him through electoral fraud.

“The House did not impeach President Trump for expressing an unpopular political opinion,” the House directors wrote earlier this month. “It indicted him for deliberately instigating a violent insurgency against the government.”

During the trial, they will argue that in pushing to reverse his electoral defeat, Trump encouraged a crowd to break through security on Capitol Hill to prevent Congressional certification of Democrat Biden’s victory.

the House Democrats pursuing the case face a high bar, needing the votes of at least 17 Republicans as well as the 48 Democrats and the two Independents who meet with them to secure a conviction.

FOUR DAYS OF ARGUMENTS

On Wednesday, the prosecution and the defense will consider the merits of the accusation. They have a total of 32 hours, evenly spread over four days, to present their cases.

Debates would begin at noon on Wednesday. The procedure could be extended further because senators would have time to question both parties.

If House administrators want to call witnesses or subpoena documents, the Senate should vote to authorize them. Trump’s attorneys and House directors could question witnesses – a much more comprehensive process than Trump’s first impeachment trial, which had no testimony.

Trump’s defense is also rooted in the argument that he was exercising his right to free speech by urging supporters to “fight” to overturn the election result.

His lawyers said in a pre-trial document that Trump was speaking in a “figurative sense,” adding: “There was notably no reference or encouragement to an insurgency, riot, criminal action or any act of physical violence of any kind. in his speech. “

A year ago, the then Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Trump of charges of obstructing Congress and abuse of power related to his pressure on the Ukrainian president to open an investigation into Biden and his son Hunter. in 2019.

The Democratic-controlled House said Trump withheld vital military aid to Ukraine as leverage to secure an investigation that Trump said would politically hurt Biden as he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Trump dismissed the allegations as a Democrat-orchestrated “witch hunt”.

No House Republican voted to impeach Trump in December 2019. In the Senate trial, only one Republican, Mitt Romney, voted to convict Trump on one of the charges.

This time around, Trump’s lawyers are calling the process a “brazen political act” on the part of the Democrats.

But 10 House Republicans, including Republican leadership Rep. Liz Cheney, voted for impeachment last month.

EXPLANATION-Is Trump’s post-presidential impeachment trial constitutional? NL1N2KE2U3

Impeachment expert says Trump’s lawyers misrepresented his work “badly enough” NL1N2KE25B

FACTBOX-Five Republicans Who Said Trump’s Post-Office Impeachment Trial ConstitutionalNL1N2KE1RV

Senator Leahy, not the Chief Justice, to preside over Trump’s second impeachment trial

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)

(([email protected]; Reuters Messaging: [email protected]; 202-898-8391; Reuters Messaging; [email protected]))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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