Trump became the first president in American history to be impeached twice after the House charged him with inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol

By Sean Neumann
January 22, 2021 03:09 PM

The initial steps of Donald Trump's unprecedented second impeachment trial are expected to start Monday, lawmakers said this week.

According to congressional rules, the historic trial will begin once the House of Representatives hand-delivers his article of impeachment — which charges Trump with "incitement of insurrection" in the wake of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack by his supporters — to their colleagues in the Senate chamber.

Earlier this month, Trump, 74, became the first president in American history to be impeached twice after the House charged the former commander-in-chief with inciting the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate's leading Republican and the now-former Senate majority leader, had requested that Congress slow down the push to get the trial over and done with.

McConnell made the request in a formal letter on Thursday night, writing that Republican members of the Senate believe Congress, the office of the presidency and "former President Trump himself all deserve a full and fair process that respects his rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake."

However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rebuffed that request on Friday. "The article of impeachment for incitement of insurrection by Donald Trump will be delivered to the Senate on Monday, January 25," she made clear in a statement of her own.

With the article received on Monday, the Senate will begin the steps to commence a trial as quickly as next week, though a delay is still possible.

McConnell, 78, had hoped to not start the trial until mid-February in order to give Trump's legal team time to prepare. Pelosi, 80, responded by pointing out the House's impeachment managers will have the same time to prepare as Trump, either way.

From left: Melania and Donald Trump arrive in Florida on Wednesday.
| Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Shutterstock

"We are respectful of the Senate's constitutional power over the trial and always attentive to the fairness of the process, noting that the former president will have had the same amount of time to prepare for trial as our Managers," Pelosi wrote. "Our Managers are ready to begin to make their case to 100 Senate jurors through the trial process. "

Senate lawmakers will need to approve of the charge with a two-thirds majority in order to convict Trump.

While he cannot be removed from office, having already ended his term on Wednesday, a majority of the Senate could punish Trump by barring him from federal office.

The former president was impeached after telling a crowd of his supporters to "fight like hell" and directing them to head to the Capitol building. Though he told them to be peaceful, he also claimed Democrats were stealing the country through a rigged election and he later praised the mob as "very special."

Throngs of protesters made their way to the Capitol after Trump's rally, descending into mob violence and invading the building with lawmakers — including then-Vice President Mike Pence — inside.

Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in connection with the riot.

Rioters at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.
| Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty
Rioters breach U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
| Credit: Win McNamee/Getty

McConnell, a longtime Trump ally, broke with him over the violence — publicly blaming Trump. "The mob was fed lies," McConnell said Tuesday on the Senate floor. "They were provoked by the president and other powerful people."

In all, 10 House Republicans voted in favor of impeaching Trump this month — the largest number of impeachment votes a president has ever received from his own political party. He left office with the lowest approval rating on record since Gallup began tracking in the 1900s.

The timing of Trump's upcoming trial reportedly remains the subject of congressional wrangling. "But make no mistake," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday. "A trial will be held in the United States Senate and there will be a vote."

Lawmakers from both parties have indicated the trial may be swift.

"I guess the public record is your television screen," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said, according to the Associated Press. "So, I don't see why this would take a long time."

Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democratic lawmaker in the Senate, said: "You don't need to tell us what was going on with the mob scene we were rushing down the staircase to escape."