President Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment could go to trial as soon as Inauguration Day, with U.S. senators serving not only as jurors but as shaken personal witnesses and victims of the deadly siege of the Capitol by a mob of his opposition.
Trump is the only president to be twice impeached, and the first to be prosecuted as he leaves the White House, an ever-more-extraordinary end to the defeated president’s tenure.
In pursuing conviction, House impeachment managers said Thursday they will be making the case that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric hours before the bloody staged attack on the Capitol was not isolated, but rather part of an escalating campaign to backup the November election results.
It culminated, they will argue, in the Republican president’s rally cry to “fight like hell” as Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes to confirm he’d lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
The trial could only begin shortly if Biden takes the oath of office next Wednesday, but some Democrats are pushing for a later trial to give him time to set up his administration and work on other priorities.
It’s a far different picture, due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the threats of violence, from the traditional pomp and peaceful transfer of power.
The only path to any reunification of this broken and divided country is by shining a light on the truth,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., who will serve as an impeachment manager.
Trump was impeached Wednesday by the House on a single charge, false incitement of insurrection, in lightning-quick proceedings just a week after after the siege. Ten Republicans joined all Democrats in the 232-197 vote to impeach.
No president has ever been convicted in the Senate, and it would take a two-thirds vote against Trump, an extremely high hurdle.
Two new senators from Georgia, both Democrats, are to be sworn in, leaving the chamber divided 50-50. That will tip the majority to the Democrats if Kamala Harris takes office. The vice president could then present the tie breaker.
At least four Republican senators have publicly expressed concerns about Trump’s actions, but others have signaled their preference to move on.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., issued a statement saying he opposes impeachment against a president who has left office. Trump ally Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is building support for an alternative of launching a commission to investigate the siege.
A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the attack, and police shot and killed a woman. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies.
AP/ ABC Flash Point Election News 2021.