WASHINGTON — The US Senate was sworn in as jurors for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on Tuesday afternoon.
All 100 senators were sworn in by Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt.), the president pro tempore of the Democratic-controlled Senate, who will oversee proceedings instead of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts because Trump is no longer president.
Congress is gearing-up for its second impeachment trial in 13 months on accusations Trump incited the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol by encouraging his supporters to overturn the presidential election.
On Monday evening, Democratic members of the House impeachment team walked the single article of impeachment through the halls of the Capitol to the upper chamber, clearing the way for the trial to begin.
Under normal rules, the impeachment trial would begin at 1 p.m. the day after the articles are presented to the Senate.
But this trial won’t begin until the week of Feb. 8 under a deal brokered by House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) allowing Trump’s legal team to assemble its defense.
On Tuesday, Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul argued that the impeachment of the former president was unconstitutional because he no longer holds public office.
Schumer rejected the notion, noting that the Senate conducted an impeachment trial on US Secretary of War William Belknap after he resigned in 1876.
Some Democratic lawmakers also raised concerns about bitter impeachment proceedings overshadowing the first days of President Biden’s administration, and suggested the trial be delayed for at least 100 days.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted 232-197 to impeach Trump one week after the siege. Ten Republicans broke with the GOP and crossed the aisle to vote with Democrats.
The last time Trump was impeached by the House, the Senate acquitted him on the charges he pressured Ukraine’s leader to investigate his political opponents, including Biden and son Hunter Biden.
The Senate requires a two-thirds majority to convict, meaning 17 Republican senators would need to vote with Democrats in a very unlikely scenario.