The Article of Impeachment alleges that in the months preceding the Jan. 6 incident at the U.S. Capitol, Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people.
Tuesday’s proceeding began with conflicting arguments from both sides on whether Trump is subject to the chamber’s jurisdiction.
House managers, who serve as prosecutors, insisted that it would set a dangerous precedent to declare a former official unimpeachable for misdeeds in his final days in office.
Trump’s lawyer Bruce Castor urged lawmakers not to trivialise impeachments and warned that the pressure to respond in kind will be enormous once the political pendulum shifts.
“President Trump no longer is in office. The object of the Constitution has been achieved. He was removed by the voters,” Castor said.
Castor also pointed out that those who stormed the Capitol building were not accused of conspiring with Trump.
Ultimately, the Senate by a 56-44 vote declared that the trial was constitutional and the body did have jurisdiction to hear the arguments and render a verdict.
Six Republican Senators voted to continue the impeachment trial, including Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Pat Toomey, Ben Sasse, and Bill Cassidy.
This is pivotal because it signals that Trump is likely to be acquitted. At least 17 of 50 Republican Senators need to side with Democrats to have the required two-thirds majority to convict Trump.
The U.S. House managers and Trump’s lawyers will now be given 16 hours over two days to present their cases.
Senators will afterward vote on the Article of Impeachment and, if the former President is convicted by an unlikely two-thirds majority, will proceed to a verdict on whether he is qualified to hold office ever again.
Biden, as proceedings got underway, said that he had better things to do than watch Trump’s impeachment trial.
“I am not,” Biden told reporters when asked if he was going to watch the trial.
“I am sure they are going to conduct themselves well. That’s all I am going to say about impeachment,” Biden said.
Trump was reportedly furious over the way his defense team performed during the opening arguments.
Republican Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, who voted to declare the impeachment trial unconstitutional, also criticised Trump’s legal defense team.
Castor, for his part, told reporters he thought the legal defense team “had a good day,” adding that they would make adjustments if needed.