Former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial began on Tuesday with House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team clashing over whether the Constitution allowed the Senate to hold a trial of a former president or not, ultimately deciding it could move forward.
Trump is facing the charge of inciting insurrection following a January 6 speech, two weeks before leaving office, to thousands of supporters urging them to fight against his election defeat. Following the speech, hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, fighting police and sending lawmakers running for safety.
The first impeachment trial of Trump, in which the articles of impeachment charged him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, started on January 16,2020 and concluded with his acquittal on February 5. The Senate kicked off Trump’s second impeachment trial with Democrats using a 13-minute video of the Capitol riot violence to build their case.
Here are the key takeaways from day 1 of Trump’s second impeachment trial:
Senate decided that a trial can be held to impeach a former President
Trump’s defense team consistently argued that a former president cannot be impeached but the impeachment managers argued that if the trial is dismissed, it would set a bad precedent for future Presidents as they could act without consequences in the last weeks of their administrations. Six Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in deciding that the Senate could proceed with the trial.
Democrats showed video footage of the events of January 6
In order to fortify their argument against the former President, Democrats used a 13-minute video of scenes from the January 6 assault on the Capitol. The video showed scenes of chaos and mobs of protesters violently pushing past security barricades.
Senator Patrick Leahy
As the longest-serving Democrat in the Senate, Leahy became the presiding officer in the Senate’s trial of Trump after Chief Justice John Roberts who had served this role for Trump’s first impeachment trial backed out from the trial this time. Leahy was witness to the violence in Capitol Hill because of which Trump’s defense team argued unsuccessfully that he had a conflict of interest in the trial.
Outcome of the trial could be similar to the first one
Even though Democrats are in the majority in the Senate, Trump could be ultimately acquitted, just like in the first trial as the Democrats need 17 Republicans to break with the former president and vote with them to have the two-thirds necessary to convict Trump. If the six Republican senators who voted with Democrats on Tuesday on the Senate’s right to hold the trial also vote to convict Trump, Democrats would still need 11 more Republican defectors to secure a conviction.