By Spy Uganda Correspondent
US: The historic second impeachment trial of Donald Trump began in the US Senate on Tuesday, with the former president facing a charge of “incitement of insurrection” after his supporters stormed the US Capitol last month and engaged in violent clashes that left five people dead.
Earlier this month, Trump’s lawyers rejected House Democrats’ request for the 45th US President to testify under oath in a Senate impeachment trial, calling the trial an “unconstitutional.”
As for the trial, a two-thirds majority Senate vote is required to convict Trump. Under the evenly split Senate, the majority can only be reached if 17 Republican senators vote for the impeachment.
On January 13, the article of impeachment against Trump was passed by the House of Representatives with support of all 222 House democrats and 10 Republicans, which made it the most bipartisan impeachment of a president in US history.
Chuck Schumer, Democratic Senate majority leader, opened the impeachment trial by saying it focused on “the gravest charges ever brought against a president of the United States in American history”.
The Democratic manager argued that there must be no “January exception” for presidents to escape punishment for their actions as they prepare to leave office. Citing the writings of America’s founding fathers, as well as contemporary constitutional scholars, they said allowing Trump to avoid accountability would set a dangerous precedent.
In a winding and freewheeling rebuttal, Trump’s lawyer Bruce Castor eventually made the point that the former president’s rhetoric was protected under the first amendment.
“We can’t possibly be suggesting that we punish people for political speech in this country,” Castor told the senators, before claiming that the only reason the impeachment trial was happening was because lawmakers feared Trump as an opponent in 2024.
The trial, which is expected to last a week or more, is set to strike a sharp contrast of tone with Trump’s first trial, in early 2020, at which prosecutors used documents, emails and testimony to tell a complicated story about a Trump pressure campaign in Ukraine.