If you’ve got questions about how Trump’s Senate trial will play out this week, then hopefully we have them covered off here: Donald Trump impeachment trial – what you need to know. Here are the key points:
What is Trump charged with?
On 13 January, the US House of Representatives voted by 232 to 197 to impeach Trump over “incitement of insurrection” after his supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn November’s election result.
Prosecutors place the blame for the violence squarely on the former president. Five died, hundreds were injured, members of Congress and staff were terrorized and the seat of US government building was left with “bullet marks in the walls, looted art, smeared faeces in hallways” – all in a bid to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
What is Donald Trump claiming in his defense?
Trump’s team issued a thinly argued 14-page document last week that said his speech did not amount to a call to storm the Capitol and that his trial was unconstitutional anyway, because he has left office. Trump will not testify personally.
How long will the trial last?
How long the trial will take is not known, but most people believe it will be much shorter than the three-week trial the last time Trump was impeached over his actions over Ukraine, when he was accused of abusing his power and obstructing Congress.
Will Trump be found guilty?
On the face of it, it seems unlikely. An impeachment trial requires a two-thirds majority for a conviction. If every senator votes, then at least 17 Republicans would need to vote against their former president to reach the required 67-vote threshold. Already, 45 Republican senators have supported a motion presented by Kentucky Sen Rand Paul that the process itself is unconstitutional and against holding the trial at all, suggesting the numbers aren’t there for a conviction.
Will a second impeachment bar Trump running from office in 2024?
Not necessarily. If he was found guilty, there’s no immediate punishment, since he is no longer in office. The Senate could, with a simple majority vote, bar him from holding federal elective office in the future.
There is a constitutional argument to be had that the Democrat-controlled Senate might try to do this anyway even if Trump is found not guilty, by invoking section three of the post-civil war 14th amendment to the US constitution, but that is likely to be the subject of a significant legal dispute should it arise.