The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday evening sent impeachment articles against President Donald Trump to the Senate, making Trump the third president in U.S. history to face trial in the upper chamber.
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The Democrat-run House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to appoint and authorize seven managers for the Trump impeachment trial and to send two impeachment articles to the Republican-majority Senate.
“We are here today to cross a very important threshold in American history,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday.
The resolution was adopted by a vote of 228-193 largely along party lines. Only one Democrat, Collin Peterson of northern state Minnesota, bucked the party line and voted against the resolution.
Hours later, Pelosi signed the impeachment articles at an engrossment ceremony. The newly-appointed House managers then immediately walked across the Capitol to deliver the charges to the Senate.
They were met in the Senate by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who received the impeachment articles but said the upper chamber would formally accept them at noon on Thursday. The two articles are expected to be read from the Senate floor at the time.
The managers are Adam Schiff of California, Jerry Nadler of New York, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Jason Crow of Colorado, Zoe Lofgren of California, Val Demings of Florida, and Sylvia Garcia of Texas, said Pelosi. All are Democratic lawmakers. Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, was named as the lead manager.
In response, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed Pelosi has been “focused on politics instead of the American people.”
“President Trump has done nothing wrong. He looks forward to having the due process rights in the Senate that Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats denied to him, and expects to be fully exonerated,” Grisham said in a statement.
“Here we go again, another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
After the House vote, as part of the opening of the trial, the Senate will send a summons to Trump asking him to appear, which the president’s legal team will answer as a formality, according to a CNN report. However, Trump is not expected to appear but can be represented by his attorneys.
PARTISAN FIGHT AHEAD
McConnell said on Tuesday that the Senate trial on Trump impeachment is likely to get underway on Jan. 21, although the upper chamber is expected to transform into an impeachment court as early as Thursday.
U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to arrive in the Senate on Thursday afternoon, when he will be sworn in to preside over the trial, and will then swear in all 100 senators who will serve as jurors and swear an oath to deliver “impartial justice.”
“By unanimous consent, we have just laid some of the groundwork that will structure the next several days,” McConnell said on Wednesday afternoon, prior to the House’s handing over of the impeachment articles.
“This is a difficult time for our country,” McConnell said.
It remains unclear if any witnesses will be called. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and other Democrats have pressed for witnesses like former National Security Advisor John Bolton to be called to testify during the trial, while McConnell has argued against their demands.
Senate Democrats need at least four Republicans to vote in favor of witnesses. So far, only three have signaled they are open to calling witnesses.
Bolton announced last week that he would be willing to testify publicly if the Senate subpoenaed him.
“If McConnell makes this the first trial in history without witnesses, it will be exposed for what it is and that is an effort to cover up for the president,” Schiff said earlier on Wednesday.
McConnell has previously said that he wants to pass two resolutions, one at the outset of the trial about the rules, and the other passed after opening arguments and questions from senators, which would determine who will be called as witnesses, similar to the trial of former President Bill Clinton.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone is expected to lead Trump’s defense, with the president’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow at his side on the Senate floor, said a CNN report.
Trump was impeached by the House on charges of abusing power and obstruction of Congress in mid-December. He was alleged to have pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into launching investigations that could politically benefit him.
Furthermore, the White House allegedly tried to cover it up after Pelosi initiated an impeachment inquiry in September.
A whistleblower raised concerns about the White House’s interactions with Ukraine in an anonymous complaint last summer. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, repeatedly calling the impeachment “a hoax.”
Under the U.S. Constitution, the House shall have the sole power of impeachment, while the Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments.
Conviction can only happen in the Senate and requires at least two-thirds of its members, or 67 senators, to vote in favor after a trial. Currently, the Senate has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents.
Source: Xinhua – WASHINGTON
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