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Impeachment case of Donald Trump moves closer as House delivers charge

Arguments in the Senate trial will begin on the week of 8 February.

Former US President Donald Trump was impeached twice.
Former US President Donald Trump was impeached twice.
Image: PA Images

THE IMPEACHMENT CASE against former US President Donald Trump has been delivered to the Senate ahead of the historic trial.

The nine House prosecutors carried the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” across the Capitol yesterday, making a solemn and ceremonial march to the Senate along the same halls the rioters ransacked just weeks ago.

But Republican denunciations of Trump have cooled since the 6 January riot.

Instead Trump’s party colleagues are presenting a tangle of legal arguments against the legitimacy of the trial and questioning whether his repeated demands to overturn Joe Biden’s election really amounted to incitement.

Some Democrats had felt it was an open-and-shut case that played out for the world on live television, as Trump encouraged a rally mob to “fight like hell” for his presidency, but this view is running into a Republican Party that feels very differently.

Not only are there legal concerns, but senators are wary of crossing the former president and his legions of followers – who are their voters.

Senator John Cornyn questioned what could happen next if Congress starts holding impeachment trials of former officials, saying: “Could we go back and try President Obama?”

He also suggested that Trump has already been held to account.

“One way in our system you get punished is losing an election,” he said.

Arguments in the Senate trial will begin on the week of 8 February, and the case against Trump, the first former president to face impeachment trial, will test a political party still sorting itself out for the post-Trump era.

Republican senators are balancing the demands of deep-pocketed donors who are distancing themselves from Trump and voters who demand loyalty to him.

For Democrats the tone, tenor and length of the upcoming trial, so early in Biden’s presidency, poses its own challenge, forcing them to strike a balance between their vow to hold Trump accountable and their eagerness to deliver on the new administration’s priorities following their sweep of control of the House, Senate and White House.

Biden himself told CNN late yesterday that the impeachment trial “has to happen”.

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While acknowledging the effect it could have on his agenda, he said there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen”.

Biden said he did not think enough Republican senators would vote for impeachment to convict, though he also said the outcome might well have been different if Trump had six months left in his term.

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