And now, place in the Senate. After long weeks of proceedings in the House of Representatives and almost a month of blockage since the historic vote of December 18, in which the counts of abuse of power and obstructing the smooth running have been held against Donald Trump, the process to remove the US president is about to arrive in the Senate.
The representatives must indeed vote, Wednesday, January 15, to formalize the passage of witness between the lower house and the upper house of the American Congress. France 24 takes stock of the next steps and the challenges they represent.
- Nancy Pelosi chooses her "managers"
The Democratic President of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, announced on Wednesday the list of representatives who will play the role of "managers" during the trial of Donald Trump to be held in the Senate. These managers must present to the senators the charges against the American president and demonstrate his guilt.
There are no rules specifying the number of managers required. When Bill Clinton was removed from office in 1999, the Republicans sent thirteen representatives to the Senate. In 1868, seven representatives argued in favor of the removal of Andrew Johnson. In 2020, seven managers will also lay the charge against Donald Trump. These are the democratic representatives Adam Schiff (California), Jerry Nadler (New York), Hakeem Jeffries (New York), Zoe Lofgren (California), Val Demings (Florida), Jason Crow (Colorado) and Sylvia Garcia (Texas) .
>> Read: "With Nancy Pelosi, Donald Trump found who to talk to"
- Protocol and staging
The House of Representatives must confirm the managers chosen by Nancy Pelosi during a vote to be held Wednesday between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. (Washington time, i.e. between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. French time). A ceremony marking the end of the procedure in the House of Representatives will then take place at 5 p.m. (local time), then the managers will bring the official documents to the Senate.
- Senate launches trial
Once the charges are officially transmitted to the Senate, the head of the Republicans in the Upper House, Mitch McConnell, will be responsible for ensuring that the preliminary steps for the trial for the impeachment of Donald Trump proceed smoothly. Among them, senators will have to take an oath before the head of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Roberts, who will preside over the trial.
Mitch McConnell must also define the precise course of the trial, which should begin, according to his last statements, Tuesday, January 21. Its principle is established by the Constitution: managers develop their accusation for several days, then the president's lawyers have the same number of days to defend him, while senators, who play the role of a jury, can ask questions in writing to John Roberts before voting for or against the removal of the president. On the other hand, the American fundamental law remains open concerning the details. The number of days available to managers and lawyers is thus left to Mitch McConnell's free will, as is the calendar.
>> See: "Impeachment procedure in the United States: how does it work?"
- The major issue for witnesses
The most important decision that the leader of the Republican senators will have to make, however, is the calling of possible witnesses and the addition of additional documents. Nancy Pelosi blocked the proceedings for four weeks because she wanted to reach an agreement with Mitch McConnell on the organization of the trial, and in particular on this crucial question of the witnesses. In 1999, the Republican and Democratic senators agreed on a bipartisan agreement voted unanimously (100 for, 0 against). But having the majority with 53 Republican senators, Mitch McConnell does not seem willing to seek the support of the Democrats to validate his procedure.
Whether or not witnesses are present is a crucial issue because Democrats would like to call four close advisers to President Trump who were banned from the White House investigation to come to the bar. The list includes former Donald Trump national security adviser John Bolton, who has said he is willing to testify in the Senate. Without witnesses or additional documents, "the Senate trial will become a farce, a televised meeting for a mock trial," warned Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate.
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