On January 13, 2021, the US House of Representatives voted to impeach former president Donald Trump for the second time. However, the verdict did not result in Mr. Trump's conviction or removal from office. It will also not prevent the former US leader from running for public office again. Those measures can only be taken if the US Senate, which began its trial on February 9, 2021, also votes in favor of the impeachment. Here is how we got here and what to expect next.
What led to the second impeachment trial?
On January 6, 2021, some of Mr. Trump's supporters broke into the US Capitol Building to stop the Electoral College votes certification that would officially confirm Mr. Joe Biden as the nation's 46th president. Though the lawmakers were quickly whisked away to safety, the rioters created havoc, looting and vandalizing the offices of several Congress members, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Soon after, the House Democrats and a handful of Republicans deemed Mr. Trump responsible for what Mr. Biden called "an unprecedented assault on democracy" and charged him with inciting an insurrection — a violent uprising against an authority or government.
How will the Senate trial work?
Given that Mr. Trump is no longer in office, the Senate first had to determine if they had the jurisdiction, or power, to try the former US leader. After a lengthy, four-hour debate, the lawmakers voted 56 to 44 that the Constitution allowed for such an impeachment, paving the way for the trial to begin on February 10, 2021.
The process will be similar to any other court proceeding. The senators will act as "jurors," while the nine House impeachment managers — led by Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland — will serve as prosecutors. Mr. Trump will be defended by a team led by former Pennsylvania prosecutor Bruce Castor.
The House impeachment managers will go first and have up to two days — a total of 16 hours — to present their evidence against the former president. Mr. Trump's lawyers will then get the same amount of time to convince the Senate members that he played no role in instigating the attack on the US Capitol. Once both sides are done, each senator will have a maximum of 15 minutes to ask any questions they may have. The lawmakers will then vote on whether to allow any witnesses or documents requested by the House Impeachment Managers. If no such request is made, they will proceed to vote on the impeachment. A two-thirds majority vote of the 100-member Senate will be required for a conviction.
How will the Senate most likely vote?
Most experts believe the Senate will acquit Mr. Trump. For one, the US lawmakers have never impeached a president. Additionally, if Tuesday's 56 to 44 vote to allow the Senate trial to proceed is any indication, the chances of obtaining the two-thirds majority votes needed for impeachment are slim to none. Even if convicted, the decision will have no immediate impact on Mr. Trump since he is no longer the president. However, the Senate could take a second vote to prevent him from holding public office in the future.
Resources: Vox.com, Independent.com. Guardian.com