Jan 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

⏱️ Impeachment tick-tock

Chief Justice John Roberts swears in senators for President Trump's first impeachment.

Chief Justice John Roberts swears in senators for President Trump's first impeachment. Photo: Senate Television via Getty Images

Here’s your guide to President Trump’s second impeachment trial. Remember, his first began almost exactly a year ago, on Jan. 16, 2020.

The state of play: Assuming the House sends the article of impeachment to the Senate on or before Jan. 19 (the day the Senate returns from recess):

  • Once the Senate’s impeachment rules are launched, the secretary of the Senate will alert the House that the Senate is ready to receive its impeachment managers, either immediately or at a mutually agreed time.
  • The managers will then walk the article and the resolution appointing them to the Senate and read the article aloud.
  • The Senate will then notify Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and invite him to preside.

Jan. 20 (Inauguration Day):

  • Senate Impeachment Rule III provides that, once the article is exhibited by the managers, “The Senate shall, at 1 o’clock afternoon of the day (Sundays excepted) … or sooner if ordered by the Senate, proceed to the consideration" of the article.
  • During both Trump and President Clinton’s trials, the Senate unanimously agreed the trial would begin immediately after the House managers exhibited the articles, rather than the next day.
  • That could mean Trump’s impeachment trial would begin at 1 p.m. on Jan. 20 — one hour after Joe Biden is sworn in to replace him.
  • On the day and time of the trial, the chief justice will be sworn in by the president pro tempore of the Senate to serve as the presiding officer.
  • The chief justice then swears in the senators as members of the Court of Impeachment. If the chief justice does not preside, the president pro tempore would perform the function.
  • The Senate then summons the person who is being impeached — by this point, former President Trump — to appear before the body, and to file an answer to the articles of impeachment.
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