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Second Trump impeachment trial takes US into uncharted waters

 

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National Guard members walk in front of the US Capitol

National Guard members walk in front of the US Capitol

National Guard members walk in front of the US Capitol

The United States will be in unknown territory when the Senate meets as soon as next week for the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to impeach Trump on charges of incitement after his supporters rampaged in the Capitol.

The violence followed a speech in which he urged them to fight president-elect Joe Biden's election victory.

Trump falsely claims he lost due to voting fraud.

Diana DeGette, one of nine Democratic impeachment managers who will argue the House's case against Trump, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was working out with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when to transmit the article of impeachment to the Senate, triggering the trial process.

"This is a situation where you have the crime pretty much being committed on national television," DeGette said. "It's a shockingly evident case."

In a 232-197 vote on Wednesday, Trump became the first president to be impeached twice and will likely be the first to face an impeachment trial after leaving office.

Protected

Ten Republicans joined the majority Democrats in supp- orting impeachment, while others said Trump's remarks were protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, which defends free speech.

The action is unlikely to lead to Trump's ouster before Biden takes office next Wednesday.

McConnell has said no trial could begin until the Senate was scheduled to be back in regular session on Tuesday.

If Trump has left the White House, the Senate could convict him and vote to ban him from running for office again.

Democrat Biden has urged Senate leaders not to allow the impeachment trial to get in the way of other priorities, such as an economic stimulus bill and coronavirus vaccine distribution improvements.

Biden's inauguration has been scaled back due to security concerns and the Covid pandemic.

The article of impeachment charges Trump with "incitement of insurrection" in his incendiary speech to thousands of supporters last week.

The mob disrupted Congress's certification of Biden's victory, sent lawmakers into hiding and left five people dead, including a police officer.

A two-thirds majority in the Senate would be needed to convict and remove Trump, meaning at least 17 Republicans in the 100-member chamber would have to join the Democrats.

If Trump is no longer president, the Senate could disqualify him from holding office in the future with only a simple majority vote.

In the trial, Trump's legal team may argue his comments were not a call to violence and were protected under the First Amendment.

"Even if his speech was protected, he can still be impeached," said Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University. "High-ranking officials get fired for their speech all the time."


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