Washington: Articles of impeachment against Donald Trump were sent to the Republican-majority Senate, nearly a month after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted to charge the US President with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The seven “impeachment managers” — Democrats Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries, Zoe Lofgren, Val Demings, Jason Crow and Silvia Garcia — appointed earlier on Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to prosecute the case carried the documents across the Capitol to the Senate on Wednesday night, reports Efe news.
The Senate majority leader, Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, invited the managers to return to the chamber at 12 p.m. on Thursday to read the articles of impeachment aloud.
Following the reading of the articles, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will be sworn-in as the temporary President of the Senate for the duration of the impeachment proceedings.
Roberts will then swear-in the 100 senators as jurors in preparation for the trial, set to begin on Tuesday, when the Senate will re-convene after the January 20 holiday honouring civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
“This is a difficult time for our country – but this is precisely the kind of time for which the framers created the Senate. I’m confident this body can rise above short-termism and factional fever, and serve the long-term best interests of our nation,” McConnell said.
“We can do this. And we must,” he added.
At a press conference, Pelosi said that the House was acting in accord with its “constitutional duty”.
“Today, we will make history, when we walk down – when the managers walk the hall, they will cross a threshold in history, delivering articles of impeachment against the president of the United States for abuse of power and obstruction of the House,” she said.
“This President will be held accountable,” the California Democrat said hours after the House voted 224-190 vote to send the impeachment articles to the Senate.
“The emphasis is on litigators,” she said, adding: “The emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom.”
Republicans hold 53 seats in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be required to convict Trump and remove him from office.
Pelosi held back on sending the articles to the Senate because she wanted Republicans there to guarantee that they would allow new witnesses to be called in the trial, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Trump’s current acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.
McConnell, however, wants an expedited process culminating in an all but inevitable acquittal.
Trump is only the third President in history to be impeached after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998-99, both of whom were acquitted.
The case against Trump unfolded after a complaint by a whistleblower from the intelligence community regarding a telephone call in July 2019 between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the US leader – in exchange for releasing some $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and setting up a coveted White House meeting for Zelensky – pressured the Ukrainian to investigate Biden for corruption although no evidence seems to exist on that score.
Trump, however, has consistently claimed that he did nothing wrong and virtually all Republican lawmakers have toed the party line that insufficient evidence of wrongdoing to justify impeachment and removal from office was gathered by House Democrats in their impeachment investigation.
Meanwhile, Trump prohibited administration officials who have inside knowledge of the activities and motivations surrounding the phone call with Zelensky from testifying before the House and also denied Democrats access to documents that might shed light on the matter, and this stonewalling resulted in the passage of the impeachment article regarding obstruction of Congress in its oversight responsibility.