Trump second impeachment trial set for opening

Photo: AP

Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial is opening today with a sense of urgency both by Democrats who want to hold the former president accountable for the violent Capitol assault and by Republicans who want it over as fast as possible, AP reported.

The proceedings are expected to diverge from the lengthy, complicated trial that resulted in Trump’s acquittal a year ago on charges that he privately pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on a Democratic rival, Joe Biden, now the president. This time, Trump’s early-January rally cry to “fight like hell” and the storming of the Capitol played out for the world to see.

Details of the proceedings are still being negotiated by the Senate leaders, with the duration of opening arguments, senators’ questions and deliberations all up for debate. So far, it appears there will be few witnesses called, as the prosecutors and defence attorneys speak directly to senators who have been sworn to deliver “impartial justice” as jurors. Most are also witnesses to the siege, having fled for safety that day as the rioters broke into the Capitol and temporarily halted the electoral count certifying Biden’s victory.

Defense attorneys for Trump declined a request for him to testify. Holed up at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, the former president has been silenced on social media by Twitter without public comments since leaving the White House, Instead, House managers prosecuting the case are expected to rely on the trove of videos from the siege, along with Trump’s incendiary rhetoric refusing to concede the election, to make their case. His new defense team has said it plans to counter with its own cache of videos of Democratic politicians making fiery speeches.

Trump is the first president to be twice impeached, and the only one to face trial after leaving the White House. The Democratic-led House approved a sole charge, “incitement of insurrection,” acting swiftly one week after the riot, the most violent attack on Congress in more than 200 years. Five people died including a woman shot by police inside the building and a police officer who died of injuries the next day.

Democrats argue it’s not only about winning conviction, but holding the former president accountable for his actions, even though he’s out of office. For Republicans, the trial will test their political loyalty to Trump and his enduring grip on the GOP.

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