US President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House during an event with US Mayors on January 24, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump is set to begin his second impeachment trial on Tuesday, an uphill battle for Democrats determined to find him guilty after the deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol.
Despite the unprecedented circumstances, unanswered logistical questions regarding the process and uncertain political ramifications, experts view acquittal as the likely outcome of the process.
The impeachment executives of the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Are still trying to convince two-thirds of the divided Senate to convict Trump of inciting the January 6th invasion.
However, their path is fraught with roadblocks, including Republicans who largely question the legality of the process itself and a Democratic President, Joe Biden, anxious to get Congress to pass its ambitious legislative agenda.
Trump is the only commander in chief in US history to have been charged twice. In 2019, for his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, he was charged with two articles: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He was acquitted by the Republican Senate in February 2020.
Trump will be out of office for nearly three weeks when the current process begins. The former Republican president, who lives in his Florida home, still commands the support of Swathes of the party and the loyalty of many of its representatives.
“I’m 95% sure there will be an acquittal,” said Chris Haynes, professor of political science at the University of New Haven. “I just don’t think there are 17 Republicans joining the Democrats to condemn Trump.”
Here’s what you should know about the upcoming process:
Why was Trump charged?
The Democratic-led House of Representatives indicted Trump on January 13, a week before he left office, of an article on “incitement to rebellion.”
US President Donald Trump gestures during a rally to contest the certification of the results of the 2020 US presidential election by the US Congress on January 6, 2021 in Washington, USA.
Jim Bourg | Reuters
The article accuses Trump, who held a rally in front of the White House shortly before the insurrection began, of making statements that “encouraged – and predictably led to – illegal activity in the Capitol.
At the rally, Trump asked a crowd of his supporters to march to the Capitol, where a joint congressional session had been called to confirm Biden’s election victory. Trump repeatedly pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence, who chaired the event, to question the results of the electoral college.
“If you don’t fight like hell, you will have no more land,” Trump told the crowd. Many of these listeners marched straight to the Capitol, where a mob broke through barricades and police lines and forced lawmakers to vacate their chambers.
Five people died, including a Capitol police officer.
The rally came after Trump made other attempts to reverse states’ election results, the article of the impeachment notes. It was also followed by Trump, who for weeks falsely insisted he won the election against Biden while spreading a series of baseless conspiracies stemming from widespread election fraud.
Who are the prosecutors?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Selected nine Democrats to serve as impeachment managers for the process.
Raskin, the chief impeachment manager, is a former constitutional law professor who has served in Congress since 2017. He said he wanted to “tell the story of this attack on America and all the events that led to it.”
Raskin, 58, agreed to lead the prosecution just weeks after his son Tommy’s death.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) Leads other House impeachment executives after telling the Senate an impeachment article against former President Donald Trump on charges of inciting the attack on the Capitol on January 6 in Washington, USA, on Jan. January 2021.
Melina Mara | Reuters
The other impeachment managers are Representatives Diana DeGette from Colorado, David Cicilline from Rhode Island, Joaquin Castro from Texas, Eric Swalwell and Ted Lieu from California, Joe Neguse from Colorado, Madeleine Dean from Pennsylvania, and Stacey Plaskett from the US Virgin Islands.
Who are Trump’s lawyers?
Trump’s legal defense is headed by Bruce Castor Jr. and David Schoen, two trial lawyers who were reportedly hired after a handful of lawyers left the former president’s team.
In an investigation report released on Monday, attorney Michael van der Veen was also listed as a member of Trump’s legal team.
Matt Rourke | AP
Castor came to prominence in 2005 when, as the Montgomery County District Attorney, he decided not to bring sexual assault charges against Bill Cosby.
Castor is also a cousin of Stephen Castor, a Republican House attorney who was involved in Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2019, according to the New York Times.
Lawyer David Schoen
Joe Cavaretta | South Florida Sun Sentinel | AP
Schön had represented Roger Stone, the Republican political agent and long-time ally of Trump, who was arrested as part of the Russia investigation by former special envoy Robert Mueller. Trump commuted Stone’s verdict days before he was reported in prison. In his final month in office, Trump pardoned Stone amid dozens of other pardons.
What are they going to fight?
Pro-Trump protesters storm into the U.S. Capitol during clashes with police during a rally to contest the U.S. Congress’ confirmation of the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election in Washington, United States, Jan. 6, 2021.
Shannon Stapelton | REUTERS
Trump’s legal team has accused Democrats of political opportunism and “Trump Derangement Syndrome” while defending Trump’s statements at the rally as a constitutionally protected speech.
Both sides have already argued over whether the process itself is constitutional, given that Trump has already resigned from office.
“The Senate is being asked to do something obviously ridiculous,” wrote Trump’s lawyers. “Try a private individual in a lawsuit to remove them from an office they no longer hold.”
The impeachment managers had preemptively replied that “there is no ‘January exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the constitution.”
How long will the process take?
There’s no specific timeline yet, but there’s reason to believe it will complete sooner than Trump’s first impeachment process, which took nearly three weeks.
For one thing, members of both parties are reluctant to delay the process. Senators acknowledge that the odds of getting at least 17 Republicans to condemn Trump are slim. No Republicans have said they plan to convict him, and few Republicans, including Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Say they haven’t made up their minds yet.
Democrats likely want to avoid getting in the way of Biden’s agenda items, including his cabinet nominations and the massive coronavirus relief law he is pushing.
President Joe R. Biden boards Marine One and leaves the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on Friday, February 5, 2021.
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Biden “doesn’t want to get involved at all,” said Haynes, “because it could affect his ability to work with Mitch McConnell, who could try completely to block anything that comes through the Senate with the filibuster.”
Impeachment managers could attempt to summon witnesses or experts to testify – an option Republicans blocked in Trump’s first trial last year. This could increase the duration of the test. However, prosecutors are preparing to rely more on the amount of video footage captured on the day of the riot, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
Trump’s lawyer Schön seemed to expect that the process could at least last until the weekend. The Jewish beautiful asked that the procedure be temporarily suspended between Friday and Sunday afternoons at sunset so that he could keep the Sabbath. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., approved the motion, a spokesman for his office said.