2nd Impeachment Trial For Former President Donald Trump Begins On Tuesday

Monday, February 8th 2021, 5:49 pm
By: Alex Cameron


The second impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump gets underway on Tuesday in the United States Senate.

A bipartisan majority in the House approved a single article of impeachment last month, charging the former president with inciting the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol that resulted in five deaths.

Senators, who will act as jurors, were sworn in two weeks ago for a trial that many think shouldn't even be happening, and, although it almost certainly will, seems highly unlikely to result in a conviction.

On a point of order raised by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, right after the swearing in, 45 of 50 Republicans agreed with his assertion that it is unconstitutional to impeach a president or vice president who is no longer in office.

In a recent interview, Oklahoma's senior senator, Jim Inhofe, said he agrees with Paul that what the Democrats are pursuing goes against the Constitution.

"The penalty that they're striving for is to be expelled from office," said Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, "and he's not in office, so you can't do that."

In a statement, Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, put it bluntly: "This is not a trial; this is political theater…In a moment when our nation needs to unite, this trial will only create even deeper divisions.”

A conviction requires a two-thirds majority, meaning House impeachment managers will need 17 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats in voting to convict.

The first day of the trial, according to multiple sources, will feature debate solely on the question of the trial's constitutionality, likely ending with an up or down vote on the matter. A simple majority, which appears within easy reach for the Democrats, as a handful of Republicans think Trump should be impeached, would send the trial to the next stage: opening statements.

Each side will reportedly have 16 hours to lay out their case. The nine House impeachment managers will detail the former president's actions and rhetoric in the months leading up to, but especially after the election, as he sought to overturn the result based on groundless claims of fraud.

They are expected to pick apart his speech at his January 6 rally and make the case that he bears singular responsibility for inciting an angry mob to march down Pennsylvania Avenue and storm the Capitol.

Trump's lawyers will repeat their assertion that the trial is unconstitutional, but will also argue that the president was simply exercising his right to free speech under the First Amendment and can't be held accountable for the actions those who took their frustrations too far.

After spending the weekend at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, President Joe Biden returned to the White House Monday morning and was asked if he thinks Trump should be stripped of his ability to run for office again.

"We’ll let the Senate work that out," Biden said.

Oklahoma's senators have indicated it's a stretch to suggest Trump alone caused his supporters to storm the Capitol.

"That's not necessarily the president's fault," Lankford said in an interview less than a week after the insurrection, "that's that individual's responsibility -- they should be held to account."

Inhofe said the Democrats are pursuing political vengeance.

"One last bit of destruction for a president who really has served very well," Inhofe said. "So I feel badly we have to do that, it's going to take some time."

It may not take as much time as Inhofe and others were thinking. Published reports suggest the trial could take about a week, depending on whether the House impeachment managers decide to call witnesses.

Last year's impeachment trial lasted three weeks. Then-President Trump was acquitted.