What to expect at Trump's impeachment trial

Prepare for partisan clashes at the upcoming impeachment trial.
Prepare for partisan clashes at the upcoming impeachment trial.

 Like everything else to do with Donald Trump, nothing about the president's impending impeachment trial is straightforward.

     Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives Dec. 18 for abuse of power and obstructing Congress. Merriam-Webster defines impeachment as "to charge (a public official) before a competent tribunal with misconduct in office." In essence, impeachment is an indictment brought by the U.S. House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate will conduct the trial.
     Now, as the Senate prepares for trial, politicians are disagreeing about the ground rules.  Part of the problem is Congress' limited experience with impeachment. Only two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, have been impeached. President Richard Nixon resigned before he was impeached.
     But here is what we know so far, along with links and sources for further study:

The background: Trump's problems follow a controversy involving his conduct during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. During the call, Zelensky said he wanted to purchase Javelin anti-tank missiles from the U.S. Trump responded, "I would like you to do us a favor though..."
    Trump explained that he wanted Zelensky to investigate a theory involving 2016 election interference. During the same call, he also mentioned that Zelensky should look into the activities of Hunter Biden, once a board member of a Ukrainian energy company and the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, now a Democratic presidential hopeful.
     While Democrats lambasted Trump for his apparent attempt to recruit Ukrainians to interfere in an American election, Republicans have defended the president. During a November appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the impeachment is an attempt to undo the 2016 election. Separately, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said Trump has given lawmakers no choice but to act.

How will the trial be conducted? It will be presided over by the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts. Senators will form the jury. The case for impeachment will be made by members of the House of Representatives, chosen by Pelosi and voted upon by the House. These representatives will be impeachment managers, and they will serve as prosecutors during the trial.

Will the president appear during the trial? It's unlikely. Andrew Johnson did not, on advice of counsel, according to the U.S. Senate website. Clinton also did not appear.

What about other witnesses? In the case of the Clinton trial, which centered on the president lying about his infidelity, senators worried about the suggestive nature of possible testimony. Several witnesses -- Monica Lewinsky, Vernon Jordan and White House aide Sidney Blumenthal -- were privately questioned, and videotaped excerpts played during the trial, recounts the Associated Press. As for the Trump trial, Republicans and Democrats continue arguing about whether witnesses will be part of the proceedings.

Are we looking at a long, drawn-out event? That could depend on the answer to the previous question. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader in the U.S. Senate, has said he wants a trial without witnesses. That would cut things short. Democrats want witnesses to appear, and Pelosi has said she would wait to send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate until she knows more about how the Senate plans to conduct the trial. 

       To know more:


      What are high crimes and misdemeanors?

      Like us on Facebook and tell us what you think.