The case that House Democrats have built against former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, which kicks off Tuesday afternoon, will resemble a “violent crime criminal prosecution,” a senior aide on the impeachment manager team said.
The House managers also plan to use evidence against Trump that hasn’t been seen before, aides told reporters ahead of the start of proceedings, although they did not provide any details.
In their presentation, the managers will attempt to show that Trump spent weeks laying the groundwork for the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and that after he saw what was happening “he incited it further,” an aide said.
Trump’s second impeachment trial will start at 1 p.m. ET, with senators debating procedural and constitutional questions before starting opening arguments the next day.
First, the Senate will convene to pass an organizing resolution dictating the structure of the trial. Up to four hours of argument over the constitutionality of proceedings against a former president by the House managers and Trump’s lawyers will follow.
While 45 Republican senators voted last month in favor of a measure that argued the proceedings were unconstitutional, some of them said they simply wanted a debate on the issue so their vote may not indicate how they view the issue. After the arguments on constitutionality, the Senate will vote on whether to proceed — a measure that needs only a simple majority and is expected to pass. That will set the stage Wednesday for the Senate to start consideration of the “incitement of insurrection” article of impeachment.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged his Republican colleagues to “pay careful attention to the evidence” and dismissed calls from some of them to forgo a trial.
“When you have such a serious charge, sweeping it under the rug will not bring unity; it will keep the sore open, and the wounds open,” Schumer said. “The Senate has a solemn responsibility to try to hold Donald Trump accountable for the most serious charges ever, ever levied against a president.”
Trump is the first president to be impeached twice by the House, and he’ll be the first former president to be put on trial in the Senate. He was impeached most recently by the House on Jan. 13 for his role in the violent riot by a pro-Trump mob at the U.S. Capitol one week earlier.
Opening arguments are expected to begin at noon on Wednesday, with House managers going first, followed by the attorneys for the president.
Each side will have 16 hours to make their presentations — shorter than the 24 hours allotted for Trump’s first trial and then-President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial.
The expectation is that Trump’s defense team will most likely not use their full 16 hours, according to two sources familiar with the legal strategy. This is subject to change but reflects the current thinking and outward optimism from the Trump lawyers heading into the trial. The sources believe that House impeachment managers will use all of their allotted time.
The trial is expected to last into the weekend and next week, and each trial day is expected to take roughly eight hours — meaning it would go until at least 8 p.m. most days, but later if they take breaks.
When opening arguments are done, senators will be able to question the two sides for four hours by submitting written questions to Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the president pro-tempore of the Senate who will preside over trial and who will read them aloud.
The managers could then have a debate and a vote on calling witnesses or subpoenaing documents. If that does not happen, the two sides would move on to closing arguments, which would last a total of four hours, and then vote on whether to convict.
Frank Thorp V and Monica Alba contributed.