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Trump impeachment trial begins in Senate

Trump impeachment trial begins in Senate

AFP
Washington
Amid a solemn silence, articles of impeachment against Donald Trump were read aloud on the Senate floor on Thursday as the bitterly divided chamber began a historic trial of the US president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Senate Sergeant of Arms Michael Stenger opened just the third impeachment trial of a US president in history with a warning to the 100 senators.
“Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye,” Stenger said after the seven members of the House of Representatives who will serve as prosecutors gathered in the well of the Senate chamber.
“All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States, articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump, President of the United States,” the sergeant at arms said.
Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who will serve as lead prosecutor for the trial, then read out the two articles of impeachment passed by the House on December 18.
“I will now read the articles of impeachment,” Schiff said, “impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.” US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is to be sworn in to preside over the trial.
Impeachment rules require a two-thirds Senate majority to convict and remove a president and Trump’s acquittal is widely expected in the Republican-dominated Senate.
Trump is accused of abuse of power for withholding military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting for the country’s president in exchange for an investigation into his potential presidential election rival Democrat Joe Biden.
The Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released Thursday that the White House violated federal law by putting a hold on the congressionally-approved funds for Ukraine.
“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” according to the GAO, a congressional watchdog.
The second article of impeachment -- for obstruction of Congress -- relates to Trump’s refusal to provide witnesses and documents to House impeachment investigators in defiance of congressional subpoenas.
McConnell has been extremely critical of Trump’s impeachment by the Democratic-controlled House and pledged on Thursday that things would be different in the Senate. “It was a transparently partisan performance from beginning to end,” McConnell said. “But it’s not what this process will be going forward.
“This chamber exists precisely so that we can look past the daily drama,” the Republican senator from Kentucky said. “The House’s hour is over. The Senate’s time is at hand.”