WASHINGTON – The Senate opens its historic proceedings against President Donald Trump on Thursday with a formal reading of the indictment articles by House prosecutors, followed by the arrival at the Capitol of Chief Justice John Roberts, who will swear in the 100 senators as jurors for only the third recall trial in the history of the United States.
The chamber begins to transform itself into a court of indictment at noon after a second day of ceremonial protocol which displaces the debates of the House led by President Nancy Pelosi in the Senate with a Republican majority.
House legislators who are continuing the case will read the charges in the Senate and, later today, Roberts will administer the jury oath to senators who swear to do “justice justice.”
The historic events unfolding during an election year while Trump is seeking another term will be a test not only for his presidency but also for the country’s three branches of power and its system of checks and balances. Several senators are running for the Democratic Party’s nomination to challenge Trump in November.
The president calls the indictment a “hoax,” even as new information emerges about his actions against Ukraine that have led to charges against him.
He is accused of having abused his presidential power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden, using military aid to the country as leverage. Trump has also been charged with obstructing the Congressional investigation.
Prior to the procedure, the government’s accountability office said Thursday that the White House had violated federal law by denying security assistance to Ukraine, which shares a border with hostile Russia.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the room on Thursday decrying Pelosi’s decision to distribute “souvenir pens” after she signed the resolution to send the charges to the Senate.
“This final exhibit perfectly distilled the whole partisan process of the House into perfect visuals,” said McConnell. “It was a transparent partisan process from start to finish.”
The Leader of the Democratic Senate, Chuck Schumer, renewed his party’s request that the trial include new witnesses and documents not available for the removal of the House.
“What is the president hiding? What is he afraid of? Said Schumer.
“The gravity of these accusations goes without saying,” he said. “The House of Representatives accused the president of trying to shake a foreign leader for personal gain.”
The president recently suggested he would be open to a quick vote to simply dismiss the charges, but sufficient Republican support is lacking. However, a possible vote to acquit Trump is considered very likely.
On Wednesday, during a dramatic procession across the US Capitol, House Democrats laid charges in the Senate.
“Today we’re going to make history,” said Pelosi, signing the documents, using several pens to distribute and mark the moment. “This president will be held accountable.”
Moments later, prosecutors solemnly walked into the stately hall, rushing into the last row of the Senate as the Clerk of the House announced the arrival: “The House adopted House resolution 798, a resolution appointing and authorizing the directors of the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, President of the United States. “
The opening arguments must begin next Tuesday after the vacation of Martin Luther King Jr.
Earlier Wednesday, the House voted 228-193, almost entirely in the direction of the parties, ending a deadline of several weeks to deliver the charges with a count reflecting the split of the country.
The House’s main Republican, Kevin McCarthy, of California, said that the Americans would return to this “sad saga” which tried to depose the president of the power with “the weakest business”.
The president’s team is planning an acquittal with a Senate trial lasting no more than two weeks, according to administration officials. It would be much shorter than the trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999, or the first, of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Both were acquitted.
The team of seven members of the prosecution is chaired by the presidents of the dismissals of the Chamber, the representatives Adam Schiff of the intelligence committee and Jerrold Nadler of the judicial committee, two of Pelosi’s main lieutenants.
Schiff released new footage on Wednesday of Lev Parnas, a partner in Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, on Ukraine’s strategy, including an exchange with another man on the surveillance of the later dismissed US ambassador. , Marie Yovanovitch.
Schiff said the new evidence should put more pressure on McConnell, who is reluctant to allow witnesses to testify and prefers a quick acquittal. The White House ordered the officials not to comply with the House subpoenas for testimony and documents.
“The challenge is to get a fair trial,” said Schiff in an interview with the Associated Press. “This should not be a challenge – if senators are serious about respecting their oath of impartiality, they will want a fair trial. This is obviously not where Mitch McConnell came from.”
The managers are a diverse group with legal, police and military experience, including Hakeem Jeffries from New York, Sylvia Garcia from Texas, Val Demings from Florida, Jason Crow from Colorado and Zoe Lofgren from California.
Two are first-year lawmakers – Crow, a former military Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Garcia, a former judge in Houston. Demings is the former Orlando police chief and Jeffries is a lawyer and a member of the party leadership. Lofgren has the rare credentials of having worked on the Congressional staff investigation into the removal of President Richard Nixon – he resigned before Parliament voted on the charges – and then being elected as a Member of Parliament for Clinton.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine is leading an effort among some Republicans, including Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, to consider Senate witnesses. She told reporters that she believed the rules would allow votes on this.
Romney said he wanted to hear from John Bolton, the former national security adviser to the White House, who others said has alarmed the alternative foreign policy towards Ukraine led by Giuliani.
Four senators could impose a result. Republicans control the room, 53-47, but it only takes 51 votes during the trial to approve the rules or call witnesses. It would also take only 51 senators to vote to dismiss the charges against Trump.
Associated Press editors Zeke Miller, Alan Fram, Matthew Daly, Andrew Taylor, Mary Clare Jalonick, Laurie Kellman and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.