Guide to President Trump’s Impeachment trial

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Post update at 1/31/2020 6:30pm: Yesterday wrapped up two days of questioning by senators on each side. All 16 hours for question and answers were used. 

Today on Jan. 31, the prosecution and defense had a four-hour debate on whether witnesses should be subpoenaed and questioned, along with the request to view additional documents. The final vote was 49-51 against allowing witnesses. 

This was mostly a party-line vote, except for Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah who voted to have witnesses.

According to NPR, Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was a wild card to keep an eye on who was possibly looking at voting for witnesses. Right before the trial began, Murkowski released a statement saying that she would vote no. 

“The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed,” Murkowski said, “I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena.”

The schedule for the rest of the trial is still being determined. 

Original report:

This article was last updated on Jan. 28. For daily updates go to our website.

The U.S. Senate Impeachment trial for President Donald Trump began Jan. 21 with an intense 13-hour debate over ground rules for the legal proceedings. Throughout the process, Congress has remained split along party lines, with most Democrats in favor of impeachment and a majority of  Republicans supportive of the president.

Senators will eventually vote on two articles of impeachment that were approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 18 and sent over to the Senate on Jan. 15. Article 1 is for abuse of power and Article 2  is for obstruction of Congress. 

Specifically, the president is accused of initially withholding nearly $400 million of military and security aid in an attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government to publicly announce an investigation into his political opponent, Joe Biden. The president also has been charged with blocking documents and testimony from government officials in the impeachment inquiries conducted by House committees. 

If convicted, Trump would become the first U.S. president removed from office through the impeachment process. 

 The Senate is acting as the jury, consisting of 45 Democrats, two Independents and 53 Republicans. Senators could debate whether to subpoena witnesses and documents as early as Friday, according to some news reports. But the outcome of the trial remained uncertain as Republican senators grappled with the leak of an unpublished manuscript written by Former National Security Advisor John Bolton, which claims Trump demanded Ukraine investigate Democrats in exchange for the foreign aid, according to a USA Today article.

“It’s increasingly apparent that it would be important to hear from John Bolton,” Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican, told reporters.

 Presiding over the trial is Chief Justice John Roberts. The prosecution team is made up of House managers Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Zoe Lofgren and other representatives. The president’s defense team consists of White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Ken Starr, Jay Sekulow and other attorneys.

After the ground rules were established, each side received 24 hours over a three-day period to give their opening statements and arguments. The prosecution started its opening statements on Jan. 22 and concluded on Jan. 24. The defense began its statements on Jan. 25 and finished on Jan. 27. 

After opening statements and arguments, senators received 16 hours for written questions. On Friday, they are scheduled to debate whether to subpoena witnesses.

Fifty-one votes are needed in order to request witnesses and documents. If the majority votes yes, the witnesses will be subpoenaed and deposed. Then senators will vote on whether to allow their testimony. 

The last step is for the senators to vote on whether to convict or acquit President Trump on each article of impeachment. Convicting Trump would take a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes.

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