The Senate begins Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial on Tuesday with a fight over whether the proceeding is constitutional, as a number of conservative lawyers reject the defense team’s claim that a former president can’t be convicted of a crime by Congress. Republican senators have advanced the constitutional question as the main justification for acquittal.
Most of them have avoided directly defending Trump’s actions leading up to and on the day his supporters stormed the US Capitol. The Senate will face the issue head on as the first step in the process, with four hours of debate scheduled Tuesday on the constitutional question, followed by a simple majority vote, under rules negotiated between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Assuming the constitutional question will fail if all 50 Democrats vote that it is appropriate to try Trump, then House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team each will begin up to 16 hours of presentations on their cases on Wednesday.
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