The question now is whether he’ll become the first President to be convicted by the Senate and removed from office.
Not much. The passage is pretty straightforward. Here it is:
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. (Article 1, Section 3)
Are there rules?
Senators take an oath before the proceedings. There’s a call to order each day. The Chief Justice has specific duties. There are set time limits for arguments and rebuttals and all questions from senators for the House and Trump attorneys must be submitted in writing and read by the Chief Justice.
When will this trial get started?
That’s not entirely clear. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he will not bring senators back until the last day of Trump’s term — January 19 — at the earliest.
Can the trial be conducted in a day?
Almost certainly not. This will take some days or even weeks for the group of House lawmakers who will make the case against Trump and his lawyers to answer. So a trial can’t practically happen until after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20.
So Trump will be out of office before the Senate trial ends?
Yes. The senators will vote on impeaching a former President.
What’s the point of holding an impeachment trial for a former President?
But Biden will be President. Won’t the Senate be busy with other things?
Yes. Big time. They will be busy with confirmation hearings for Biden’s Cabinet nominees — at least four are already scheduled for the week of January 20, for Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin, Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen and Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas. Senators could be called on to draft legislation having to do with the pandemic or economic relief — Biden wants to increase relief checks to $2,000.
So impeachment won’t be the only thing on their plate. And it’s likely they’ll only spend a portion of each day on Trump’s trial. They could also, under the rules, appoint a special committee to hear the case, but this seems unlikely.
Impeachment failed the first time against Trump. What’s different now?
How many votes are required to convict Trump?
Great question! Conviction requires 2/3 of those present. If all 100 senators are present, that’s 67 senators. Assuming those two Georgians are seated, that means there are 50 senators from each party and 17 Republicans would be required.
However! Pay close attention to the rules, which require 2/3 of those present. If those two Democrats from Georgia are not yet seated, it might require 66 senators. If some number of Republicans didn’t want to vote against Trump but also didn’t want to vote to convict, they could skip the vote and change the ratio. That kind of thing has been known to happen, although not during impeachment proceedings.
What’s the historical precedent?