5 key questions for Trump's Senate impeachment trial

Via:  Buzz of the Orient  •  2 months ago  •  9 comments

By:   Eric Tucker And Mary Clare Jalonick The Associated Press Staff

5 key questions for Trump's Senate impeachment trial

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5 key questions for Trump's Senate impeachment trial


A man holds up a placard calling for the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump during a car rally through the streets of downtown Denver, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

WASHINGTON -- Arguments begin Tuesday in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump on allegations that he incited the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

A look at five key questions about what to expect when senators hear the case against the former president in the very chamber that was besieged by insurrectionists :


It's unlikely. While many Republicans were harshly critical of Trump for telling supporters to "fight like hell" and go to the Capitol, their criticism has since softened.

The shift was evident during a Jan. 26 test vote. Only five Republican senators voted against a motion that was aimed at dismissing the trial.

It will take a two-thirds vote of the 100-member Senate to convict Trump of the impeachment charge, which is "incitement of insurrection." If all 50 Democrats voted to convict him, 17 Republicans would have to join them to reach that threshold.

Most Republicans have avoided defending Trump's actions the day of the riot. Instead, lawmakers have argued that the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office. Democrats and many legal scholars disagree.

After the January test vote, many Republicans indicated Trump's acquittal was a foregone conclusion.

"Do the math," said Maine Sen. Susan Collins, one of the five Republicans who voted to move forward with the trial. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he thought the vote was a "floor not a ceiling" of Republican support to acquit.

Still, some Republicans said they were waiting to hear the arguments at trial. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman voted for the effort to dismiss, but said that constitutionality "is a totally different issue" than whether Trump is guilty of incitement.


It's a tough needle to thread. Trump's team is likely to try and remove the emotion from the case and focus on legal and practical arguments against conviction.

In their first filing for the trial, his lawyers made clear that they will challenge the constitutionality of the trial now that Trump has left the White House. That could give an out to Republican senators who are inclined to acquit the former president without condoning his behaviour.

The defence could also argue the trial is pointless with Trump no longer president, because removal from office is the automatic punishment for an impeachment conviction. Democrats note that after a conviction, the Senate also could bar Trump from holding public office in the future.

To the extent that defence lawyers are forced to grapple head-on with the violence and chaos of Jan. 6, they probably will concede the horror of that day but blame it on the rioters who stormed the Capitol. Trump's lawyers assert that Trump never incited the insurrection.


It won't be easy. For the prosecutors, the bottom line is that the riot wouldn't have happened without Trump, so he must be held to account.

It's a simple case that Democrats feel doesn't need to be exaggerated, especially because five people died amid the chaos, and senators were victims themselves. The Senate quickly evacuated just as the insurrectionists were pushing up stairwells close to the chamber. Once senators were gone, rioters broke in and rifled through the lawmakers' desks.

In a brief filed last week previewing their arguments, the House impeachment managers used stark imagery and emotional appeals to argue Trump's guilt.

Their filing said senators were "feet away" from the swarming rioters, and noted that those outside "wearing Trump paraphernalia shoved and punched Capitol Police officers, gouged their eyes, assaulted them with pepper spray and projectiles."

In the House, the impeachment managers wrote, "terrified members were trapped in the Chamber; they prayed and tried to build makeshift defences while rioters smashed the entryway ... some Members called loved ones for fear that they would not survive the assault by President Trump's insurrectionist mob."

Those scenes will be brought to life at the trial. Prosecutors are expected to play video of the attack during their presentations.


That doesn't seem likely. He's rejected through his lawyers a request by impeachment managers to testify. A subpoena seeking to compel his testimony isn't expected at this point.

Trump also no longer has access to Twitter, which he relied on extensively during his first impeachment trial last year to attack the case against him and to retweet messages, videos and other posts from Republicans haranguing Democrats.

With Trump at his Florida resort, his lawyers will be left to make arguments on his behalf. Democrats pledged to hold Trump's unwillingness to testify against him at trial, but the argument may not resonate. It's not clear that Republican senators -- even the many who are likely to acquit him -- really want to hear from him.


The likelihood of Trump's acquittal worries some senators, who fear the consequences for the country. Some have floated the possibility of censuring Trump after the trial to ensure that he is punished in some way for the riot.

But there also may be another way for Congress to bar Trump from holding future office.

In an opinion piece published last month in The Washington Post, Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman and Indiana University law professor Gerard Magliocca suggested Congress could turn to a provision of the 14th Amendment that is aimed at preventing people from holding federal office if they are deemed to have "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against" the Constitution.

The professors wrote that if a majority vote of both houses agree that Trump engaged in an act of "insurrection or rebellion," then he would be barred from running for the White House again. Only a two-thirds vote of each chamber of Congress in the future could undo that result.


BUZZ NOTE:  In the event that you wish to post a comment on this article, it is suggested that you first familiarize yourself with this group's RED RULES which you can access by clicking on the group avatar at the top right of this page. 


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Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient    2 months ago

Personally, I have no faith that the Republican Senators, save for a few with integrity and principles, will vote to impeach.  The Republican Senators face an interesting dilemma - they have to calculate the vote number balance between their supporters who are Trump loyalists and those who are not for when it comes time for their OWN re-election. I foresee the Republican Party being decimated by the next two elections.  However, there is still hope to prevent the country from being led for another four years by a revengeful loser, as I learned from reading the last few paragraphs in the article.

PhD Expert
2  Tacos!    2 months ago
Congress could turn to a provision of the 14th Amendment that is aimed at preventing people from holding federal office if they are deemed to have "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against" the Constitution. The professors wrote that if a majority vote of both houses agree that Trump engaged in an act of "insurrection or rebellion," then he would be barred from running for the White House again. Only a two-thirds vote of each chamber of Congress in the future could undo that result.

I'm pretty sure that would be unconstitutional. It amounts to a Bill of Attainder, which is expressly prohibited in the Constitution. Article 1, Section 9. There's nothing in the language of the 14th Amendment that overrules that prohibition.

Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Tacos! @2    2 months ago

I checked the definition of Bill of Attainder and see your point, but surely the two law professors would have been aware of that, so perhaps this circumstance does not fall under Article 1, Section 9, which perhaps possibly only applies to requiring a death sentence for such offence.  Of course I'm understandably not very knowledgeable of American Law, especially American Constitutional Law, but are you?

PhD Expert
2.1.1  Tacos!  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1    2 months ago
the two law professors would have been aware of that

I know enough law professors to know that even though they're very smart, they're not perfect. They forget stuff or disagree with each other all the time.

I think it's just that this was more of a political op-ed than a dispassionate legal analysis. In a legal argument, you're expected to anticipate the best arguments of the other side and attack them. But in a political message, you just want to get your point of view out there.

A lot of lawyers write op-eds but don't make the mistake of thinking they don't care about politics.

Freshman Quiet
3  expatingb    2 months ago
5 key questions for Trump's Senate impeachment trial

When is this "impeachment trial" being held.

The farce that the Senate is going to hold can be called a Kangaroo Court, inquisition or anything else it so desires, but it is not an Impeachment Trial. 

They can call it an impeachment trial, but doing so does not in fact make it so.  I can call a circle a square, but that does not in fact make the circle a square.  It is still a circle mistakenly called a square.

To validate my correct position, I will use nothing less than the document that actually describes and qualifies what is in fact and Impeachment hearing in the US Senate, The United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 3.

And I quote:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present. Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Please note the words "When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside."

Two points to be recognized are;

1- Donald J. Trump is no longer the President.  He is the former President.  Although he along with others of distinguished rank will likely be called by his former official title, President Trump, for the remainder of his days, he is just another citizen and unanswerable to the Senate as the legislative branch of the US Government. 

2- Chief Justice Roberts has declined to preside over the hearings.

I'll enjoy the spectacle of the US Senate making abject fools of themselves, well at least one party of that body, the Democrats, from a distance.  Fortunately, or possibly unfortunately (?), my time here in my birth home of Great Britain is coming to a close and I will be returning to my chosen country this coming summer when the tour of my current wife expires and she rotates back to the states to commence her retirement tour and we are reunited with her daughters, my step-daughters.

Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  expatingb @3    2 months ago

Of course you're entitled to voice your opinion on this site (provided you comply with the ToS and CoC, and in this case the red rules of this group).  My opinion, although for other reasons, is no different.  This "trial" will be a farce because virtually every juror has, notwithstanding their prior statements, already made up his/her mind without having seen one nanosecond of evidence being presented before them, and I doubt that any of them will change their mind upon that evidence being presented. 

Freshman Quiet
3.1.1  expatingb  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.1    2 months ago
Of course you're entitled to voice your opinion

I'm hardly espousing an opinion.  I'm simply making a statement of fact.  Period.

An impeachment trial in the Senate is of a sitting President with the only outcome being removal from office.   Donald J. Trump is not President and he left the office of the President in January.

Additionally, to actually be considered a legally binding impeachment trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court HAS to be presiding.  No question, no substitution, "the Chief Justice SHALL preside."   That is a point of fact that is non-negotiable.  The word is SHALL, not, may be, can be, or any other word, it is SHALL.  If there is any question as to the meaning of that word you're welcome to read the following:

3 a used to express a command or exhortation you shall go
  b used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.1.2  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  expatingb @3.1.1    2 months ago

Yes, you have provided actual quotations and by doing so you have posted your opinion based upon your interpretation of the Constitution and American law.  Thank you.  I believe I have posted an article that indicates different interpretations, even by law professors.  Unfortunately I find myself a member of a profession that knows that laws are not necessarily chiseled into granite rock, and there is always another side to a story. But what the hell, the Republicans are not going to provide the necessary majority in any event, so I don't wish to argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. 

Paula Bartholomew
PhD Guide
4  Paula Bartholomew    2 months ago

The question I would like asked is....How much money has he ripped off from campaign funding and that bs recall fund that went into his and his con/grifter kids own pockets.


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