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.
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“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 at 2:00 pm (1900 GMT) to preside over the trial.
Roberts, 64, who was appointed to the nation’s top court by president George W. Bush, will then deliver an oath to the 100 senators who will swear to administer “impartial justice.”
The proceedings will then adjourn and the trial will get underway “in earnest” on Tuesday, according to Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell.
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. (AFP)