Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gets up after signing the articles of impeachment of US President Donald Trump during an engrossment ceremony on Capitol Hill January 15, 2020, in Washington, DC. The US House of Representatives voted Wednesday to transmit articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, opening the way for the historic trial of the 45th president for abuse of power.
AFP/Brendan Smialowski
Trump impeachment articles delivered to Senate
Paul Handley (Agence France-Presse) - January 16, 2020 - 8:11am

WASHINGTON, United States — Articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress were delivered to the Senate Wednesday, setting in motion a historic trial that threatens the US leader with removal from office.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell announced that the articles would be formally read to the chamber Thursday at noon (1700 GMT), after which Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts will be sworn in to preside over the trial.

Senators will then be sworn in as jurors on Thursday, and preparations will get underway for an impeachment trial that will open on Tuesday, January 21.

"This is a difficult time for our country, but this is precisely the kind of time for which the framers created the Senate," McConnell said, referring to the authors of the US Constitution.

"I'm confident that this body can rise above short-termism and factional fever and serve the long-term best interests of our nation. We can do this, and we must."

The two articles of impeachment -- one for abuse of power and the other for obstructing the House investigation -- were delivered in blue folders in a solemn procession by the newly appointed House managers, seven Democrats who will prosecute the case against the president.

"So sad, so tragic for our country, that the actions taken by the president to undermine our national security, to violate his oath of office and to jeopardize the security of our elections, has taken us to this place," Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as she signed the articles.

"This president will be held accountable," she said, adding: "No one is above the law."

The solemn formalities underscored the grimness of the occasion, Trump becoming only the third US president in history to be placed on trial in the Senate.

"We feel we are carrying out the will of the framers of our constitution, and that's a pretty serious load," said Adam Schiff, the Democratic lawmaker tapped to lead the prosecution team.

'Two weeks'

Trump is accused of secretly holding up $391 million in aid to Ukraine between July and September to pressure Kiev to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic frontrunner in this year's White House race.

The president is also charged with obstruction for holding back witnesses and documents from the House impeachment investigation in defiance of Congressional subpoenas.

He was formally impeached on December 18.

But Pelosi held back on delivering the articles to the Senate as she pressured McConnell to agree to subpoenaing the witnesses and documents that the White House blocked from the House probe.

McConnell has refused to commit, saying the issue will only be decided after the trial's opening arguments and questioning, which could take two weeks.

A Trump administration official told reporters Wednesday that they expect the trial to go no longer than two weeks, suggesting McConnell could use his 53-47 Republican majority in the Senate to stifle calls for witnesses and quickly take the charges to a vote.

"I think it's extraordinarily unlikely it will be going beyond two weeks," the official said, on condition of anonymity.

With impeachment rules requiring a two-thirds super-majority in order to convict and remove a president, Trump's acquittal is widely expected.

Earlier Wednesday Trump ridiculed the investigation and trial, as he has for months.

"Here we go again, another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats," he wrote on Twitter.

Grave task

Underscoring the high level of politics surrounding the trial, Pelosi was immediately attacked over the ceremony to sign the articles, in which she used multiple pens to distribute to key lawmakers as souvenirs of the occasion.

House Republican Liz Cheney attacked Pelosi and Democrats for being "giddy with excitement" about the signing and "making a mockery of their duty to the Constitution."

Aside from Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, the prosecution team will include Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, Zoe Lofgren, a veteran of two previous impeachment investigations, and three others.

Former federal prosecutor Elie Honig said the lawmakers chosen stood out for their backgrounds in the US legal system, several of them former federal attorneys.

The Democrats "signal they intend to do this like a criminal trial and not like a political show," Honig said.

DONALD TRUMP IMPEACHMENT
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 6, 2020 - 10:24am

Monitor updates on the impeachment investigation into US President Donald Trump.

February 6, 2020 - 10:24am

Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi denounces the Senate's acquittal of President Donald Trump and says he remains "an ongoing threat to American democracy."

"Today, the President and Senate Republicans have normalized lawlessness and rejected the system of checks and balances of our Constitution," Pelosi says in a statement issued after the Senate acquitted Trump of both impeachment articles passed by the House.

"The President remains an ongoing threat to American democracy, with his insistence that he is above the law and that he can corrupt the elections if he wants to," Pelosi says. — AFP

February 6, 2020 - 9:12am

Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced the Senate's acquittal of President Donald Trump on Wednesday and said he remains "an ongoing threat to American democracy."

"Today, the President and Senate Republicans have normalized lawlessness and rejected the system of checks and balances of our Constitution," Pelosi said in a statement issued after the Senate acquitted Trump of both impeachment articles passed by the House.

"The President remains an ongoing threat to American democracy, with his insistence that he is above the law and that he can corrupt the elections if he wants to," Pelosi said.

The Republican-majority Senate voted 52-48 to acquit Trump of abuse of power and 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress. — AFP

February 6, 2020 - 8:06am

US President Donald Trump drew on staunch Republican support to defeat the gravest threat yet to his three-year-old presidency on Wednesday, winning acquittal in the Senate on impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Only the third US leader ever placed on trial, Trump readily defeated the Democratic-led effort to expel him from office for having illicitly sought help from Ukraine to bolster his 2020 re-election effort.

Trump immediately claimed "victory" while the White House declared it a full "exoneration" for the president — even as Democrats rejected the acquittal as the "valueless" outcome of an unfair trial. — AFP

January 26, 2020 - 1:43pm

Donald Trump demanded the dismissal of Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine and a key figure in the president's impeachment trial, according to a video recording released to US media on Saturday. 

The footage was reportedly taken during an April 2018 donor dinner at a hotel and released to news outlets by an attorney for Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. 

Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman are key players in Trump's alleged campaign to pressure the government of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, a potential election opponent for the president. 

The issue is central to Trump's ongoing impeachment trial in the US Senate. — AFP

January 25, 2020 - 3:39pm

Donald Trump's lawyers prepare to deliver his first full-throated defense Saturday in the Senate's historic impeachment trial, after Democratic prosecutors spent three days making their case for the US president's removal from office.

Capping 24 total hours of arguments, Democrats tell the 100 senators that Trump abused the power of the presidency in pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations that would help him politically, and then sought to block efforts by Congress to investigate.

Democrats say they had met that burden of proof, as lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff warned that Trump would remain an "imminent threat" to American democracy if he stays in power. — AFP

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