The Senate opens its historic proceedings against President Donald Trump on Thursday with a formal reading of the charges by House prosecutors, followed by the arrival at the Capitol of Chief Justice John Roberts, who will swear in all 100 senators as jurors for only the third impeachment trial in U.S. history.
The chamber begins to transform itself into an impeachment court at noon following a second day of ceremonial protocol that shifts the proceedings out of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic-run House to the Republican-majority Senate.
The House lawmakers prosecuting the case will read the charges to the Senate, then, later in the day, Roberts will administer the jurors’ oath to senators who swear to deliver “impartial justice.”
The events, unfolding during an election year as Trump seeks another term, will be a test not only of his presidency but also of the nation’s three branches of power and its system of checks and balances. Several senators are running for the Democratic party’s nomination to challenge Trump in November
The president calls the impeachment a “hoax,” even as new information emerges about his actions toward Ukraine that led to the charges against him.
He faces a charge that he abused his presidential power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, using military aid to the country as leverage. Trump was also charged with obstructing Congress’ ensuing probe.
Ahead of the proceedings the Government Accountability office said Thursday that the White House violated federal law in withholding the security assistance to Ukraine, which shares a border with hostile Russia.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the chamber Thursday decrying Pelosi’s decision to hand out “souvenir pens” after she signed the resolution to transmit the charges to the Senate.
“This final display neatly distilled the House’s entire partisan process into one perfect visual,” McConnell said. “’It was a transparently partisan process from beginning to end.”