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The second impeachment trial of former President Trump will kick off Tuesday, as Democrats and Republicans continue to spar over its merits.
Just one year after the first failed effort by left-wing lawmakers, House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), will push forward with a second effort to convict the former commander-in-chief and bar him from holding future federal office.
The effort was brought on in response to the Capitol riot Jan. 6. The House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump one week to the day after the siege.
Democrats filed a single article of impeachment, charging the president with “incitement of an insurrection.”
The party has moved full steam ahead despite little to no Senate GOP support, with many arguing that there was a constitutional obligation to hold the 45th president accountable.
Republicans, however, have largely rejected that argument and slammed the effort as partisan and unconstitutional.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the start of the trial:
Where to watch
The trial itself will be carried on all major TV news networks, and will also be available for streaming through C-Span, PBS and YouTube, beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
How the trial will work
For the first day of proceedings, House impeachment managers will debate Trump’s attorneys, David Schoen and Bruce Castor, on the constitutionality of the trial itself.
The two sides will have four hours, split equally, to deliver their arguments.
Wednesday will mark the start of each side presenting their case, which both will have 16 hours of time to do over four days.
House impeachment managers will go first, and Trump’s lawyers will follow.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy will preside over the Senate trial — rather than Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over Trump’s first trial last year.
Leahy, a Democrat, said the chief justice won’t preside because Trump is no longer president.
“The president pro tempore has historically presided over Senate impeachment trials of non-presidents,” Leahy, 80, said in a statement.
Leahy said in his statement that he would be impartial, though he’s believed to still be able to vote on whether to convict Trump. “When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tempore takes an additional special oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws. It is an oath that I take extraordinarily seriously,” he said.
Leahy added: “When I preside over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, I will not waver from my constitutional and sworn obligations to administer the trial with fairness, in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.”
One thing Democrats and Republicans agree on in this matter: that the trial should not last much longer than a week.
Proceedings were originally going to take a pause from Friday evening, through Saturday, for Trump attorney David Schoen to observe the Jewish Sabbath. But in a last minute schedule change, Schoen rescinded that request.
The trial is still not expected to be underway past Sunday.
Where Democrats and Republicans stand
Democrats hold a slight majority in the 50-50 split Senate by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, meaning they would need 17 Republicans to cross the aisle and vote to convict Trump, which appears less and less likely with time.
Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said there is “zero chance of conviction” when the trial reaches the Senate this week.
“Forty-five Republicans have said it’s not even a legitimate proceeding, so it’s really over before it starts,” he continued, referencing the 45 Republican senators who voted in support of his motion to dismiss the trial on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.
“I think it’s beyond the Senate’s constitutional authority to have an impeachment proceeding, the point of which is to convict and remove from office a man who left office three weeks ago,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) told Fox News on Monday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), known as one of Trump’s most vocal allies, slammed the process and said Democrats have “declared war on the Presidency itself.”
“What we do [Tuesday] is going to make history for the time America exists. What Democrats have done is basically declared war on the Presidency itself. The impeachment in the House took place without a hearing, without one witness being called, and without a lawyer for the President of the United States. You can’t get a traffic ticket based on the procedures they used to impeach President Trump,” Graham said on Fox News Monday evening.
This follows earlier comments from Sunday, where he said history will judge the former president’s action in the Capitol siege — but the Senate should not.
“Well, I mean, he’s going to have a place in history for all of this, but the point of the matter is that we’re in Congress, we’re not prosecutors. Impeachment was never meant to be a prosecution,” Graham said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), meanwhile, called the impeachment trial a “partisan exercise” and suggested that there might be another way to hold the former president accountable.
“If being held accountable means being impeached by the House and being convicted by the Senate, the answer to that is no,” Wicker said on ABC News’ “This Week.” “Now if there are other ways in the court of public opinion or if there’s some criminal charge … dawns on some prosecutor, perhaps, there’s another avenue there.”
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) has come out in advance of the trial to declare his stance, telling Fox News on Monday that the former president is “simply not guilty.”
“I was in the chamber when the rioters were coming over. I was taking my jacket off, my tie off, rolling my sleeves up, just in case I had to fight. The chances of me understanding, appreciating the severity of the situation is 100%. The one person I don’t blame for that situation is President Trump. I don’t blame the nonviolent protesters outside. I blame the individuals coming in the chamber, coming in the building. So the Democrats should put the blame where it stands, where it should be, and that does not have to do with the president who said ‘go peacefully to protest.’”
Lawmakers on the right have also used the fact of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ refusal to preside over the proceedings as an argument against its constitutionality.
“The Constitution says two things about impeachment — it is a tool to remove the officeholder, and it must be presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,” Sen. Paul wrote in an op-ed last month for The Hill.
“Neither one of those things will happen. President Trump is gone, and Justice John Roberts, properly noticing the absence of an officeholder being impeached, is declining to preside.”
Democrats, for the most part, have been largely united in their support for impeaching the former commander-in-chief.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who backs impeachment, acknowledged on “Fox News Sunday” this week that the constitutional concerns were valid.
“I will admit that this is, of course, a matter of first impression. And so I don’t think the case that Sen. Paul is making here is a ridiculous one,” the Connecticut Democrat said. “I come to a different judgment.”
“So I think we have this [constitutional] responsibility,” he added, “But I — listen, I admit that Sen. Paul’s case is, you know, not from outer space.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is the only Senate Democrat that has voiced deep issues about the impeachment effort, calling it “so ill-advised” late last month.
“We’ve been trying to send that message over [to the House]. They know the votes aren’t there,” Manchin said.
“I think this is so ill-advised for Joe Biden to be coming in, trying to heal the country, trying to be the president of all the people when we are going to be so divided and fighting again. Let the judicial system do its job,” he continued.
Where Biden stands
The current commander-in-chief, for his part, has steered clear of the impeachment effort by other leaders in his party.
When asked whether he would be watching the proceedings on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters “The President himself would tell you that we keep him pretty busy, and he has a full schedule this week.
“I think it’s clear from the schedule and from his intention he will not spend too much time watching the proceeding, if any time.”
When asked directly about it outside the White House on Monday, President Biden declined to offer his stance, saying it should be left to the Senate to decide.
“Look, he got an offer to come testify. He decided not to. We will let the Senate work it out.”