The second impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump begins today in the Senate.
The former president is charged with one count of incitement to insurrection for his role in last month’s deadly assault on the Capitol. Impeachment managers argue that Trump had encouraged his supporters to storm the Capitol when he told them to “fight like hell” at a rally just prior to the event. Trump’s lawyers allege that the former president was exercising his right to free speech, calling the trial “political theater.”
The trial opens at 1 pm E.T with impeachment managers and Trump’s defense lawyers arguing over the constitutionality of trying a former president who has left office. A majority vote of 51 is needed for the trial to proceed. Should a majority of Senators vote that the impeachment is constitutional, the trial will proceed on Wednesday.
The former president has declined to testify in the trial, and no witnesses are expected to be called. Instead, the AP reports that the senators, serving as jurors, will be presented with video evidence from the Capitol siege.
A two-thirds vote in the Senate is needed for a conviction — a threshold which at this time many political analysts believe is unlikely, as it would require 17 Republican senators to join all 50 Democrats in voting for the conviction. However, as reported by Politico, Democrats want to hold the former president accountable, with one Democratic senator citing the need to establish Trump’s “really heinous criminal wrongdoing and criminal intent.”
In a press conference on Monday, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that President Biden “has a full schedule this week” and that “he will not spend too much time watching the proceedings.”
This is the fourth time in American history that a president has been impeached, and the first time the same president has been impeached twice. President Trump was first impeached in 2019, after a phone call in which he allegedly pressured Ukraine into providing dirt on then-candidate Joe Biden. He was acquitted by a Republican-led Senate.