For the second time in just over a year, the House sent an impeachment notice to the Senate of Donald J. Trump on Monday, placing his political destiny in the hands of 50 Republican senators who are currently reluctant to condemn him.
On a day more ceremonial than substance, nine property managers walked across the Capitol to inform the Senate that they were ready to prosecute Mr. Trump for “inciting insurrection,” a bipartisan charge became after the former president stirred up a violent mob that stormed the Capitol earlier this month. But the Senators planned to pause quickly, postpone the heart of the process until February 9, and buy Republicans time to prepare for a trial that will be as much a referendum on the future of their party as it is on Mr. Trump himself.
In contrast to Mr. Trump’s most recent impeachment, when Republicans quickly and enthusiastically rallied behind him, several Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have signaled that they are ready to replace the former president after a mendacious campaign sentencing to overcome his electoral loss became fatal. That would allow the Senate to prevent him from ever assuming office again. But at least at the beginning of the trial, their number fell far short of the 17 Republicans it would take to reach a conviction with the Democrats.
Instead, Republicans’ initial anger over the January 6 attack, when the trial was interrupted, seemed to give way to cold political calculations about the price they might pay for leaving Mr Trump as he was the voters who made up the Party persists, base still held.
A New York Times poll on the eve of the trial found 27 Republican senators opposed to indicting Mr. Trump or otherwise holding him accountable by impeachment. Sixteen Republicans said they were undecided and seven had no answer. Most opponents increasingly resorted to process-based objections rather than defending Mr. Trump.
President Biden, all in one Interview with CNN On Monday he said that while he felt the trial was necessary, he did not believe that 17 Republican senators would vote in favor of Mr Trump’s conviction.
“The Senate has changed since I was there, but it hasn’t changed that much,” Biden said.
The caretakers, led by Jamie Raskin of Maryland, carried a slim blue envelope with the impeachment charge and passed through a Capitol where memories of the January 6 siege were still fresh. They started in the chamber of the house, where the legislature ducked into cover and put on gas masks as the rioters tried to make their way. past Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite, which was searched by the crowd; through the rotunda, where officers fired tear gas when they lost control of the crowd; and in the well of the Senate Chamber, where invaders in Trump gear gathered and took turns to take photo-ops on the podium that the Vice President and Senators had to evacuate shortly before.
After Mr. Raskin read the charges in full, the managers left. The Senate planned to meet again on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. Subpoena Mr. Trump to answer for the indictment and officially approve a negotiating plan for the coming weeks.
Senators will also take a special 18th-century oath of impeachment to practice “impartial justice.”