First impeachment trial of Donald Trump

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First impeachment trial of Donald Trump
Chief Justice John Roberts presides over the impeachment trial of Donald Trump
AccusedDonald Trump
DateJanuary 16, 2020 – February 5, 2020
OutcomeFound not guilty by the Senate, remained in office
CauseAllegations that Trump sought help from Ukrainian authorities to favor him in the 2020 U.S. presidential election

The first impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the United States Senate began on January 16, 2020, and ended on February 5, 2020. [1]

It took place following President Trump's impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives on December 18, 2019, after a two-month inquiry stage which lasted from September to November 2019. The House passed two articles of impeachment which charged him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.[2] If Trump had been found guilty, he would have been removed from the presidency. On February 5, the Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump (decide that he was not guilty), for both charges.

January 2020[change | change source]

Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate after the House approved it. Senator Lindsey Graham proposed that he and Senator Mitch McConnell "change the rules of the Senate so we could start the trial without [Pelosi], if necessary".[3]

On January 9, 2020, Pelosi said she would deliver the articles soon, but continued to cite a need for Republican transparency in the Senate;[4] the same day, McConnell informed members of his caucus that he expected the trial to begin next week,[5] and Senator Josh Hawley announced that McConnell had signed on as a co-sponsor to his resolution to dismiss articles of impeachment not sent to the Senate within 25 days.[6]

On January 10, Pelosi announced that she had "asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate".[7]

At the end of the January 21 session, the Senate voted along party lines to pass Mitch McConnell's proposed trial rules and reject 11 amendments proposed by Democrats.[8] The prosecution's opening arguments and presentation of evidence took place between January 22–24.[9] Trump's defense presentation began on January 25. The primary arguments were a lack of direct evidence of wrongdoing, and that Democrats were attempting to use the impeachment to steal the 2020 election. Under the U.S. Constitution, a two-thirds majority of the Senate is required to convict the president.

Officers of the trial[change | change source]

The presiding judge[change | change source]

The only mention of the chief justice in the entire constitution is that he is the presiding officer in the impeachment trial of the president. Under senate rules adopted in 1998, he also exercises this function in the trial of a vice president.[10]

Chief Justice Date confirmed
Tenure Tenure length Appointed by Prior position
John Roberts
(born 1955)
September 29, 2005
September 29, 2005

18 years, 233 days George W. Bush Judge of the
United States Court of Appeals
for the District of Columbia Circuit


House managers[change | change source]

Impeachment Managers in the Trial of Donald Trump
Hakeem Jeffries
Sylvia Garcia
Val Demings
Zoe Lofgren
Jason Crow
Jerrold Nadler
Adam Schiff

Attorneys for the defense[change | change source]

The White House has formally announced its Senate trial counsel as being led by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, alongside Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz, Pam Bondi, Jane Raskin, Eric Herschmann, and Robert Ray.[11] Additionally, Michael Purpura and Patrick Philbin will participate in the trial.[12]

On January 20, the White House named eight House Republicans to serve on Trump's defense team: Doug Collins, Mike Johnson, Jim Jordan, Debbie Lesko, Mark Meadows, John Ratcliffe, Elise Stefanik, and Lee Zeldin.[13]

Trial Counsel
White House Counsel
Pat Cipollone
Jay Sekulow Ken Starr Alan Dershowitz Pam Bondi
Jane Raskin Eric Herschmann Robert Ray Patrick F. Philbin Mike Purpura
Congressional Defense Team
Doug Collins
Mike Johnson
Jim Jordan
Debbie Lesko
Mark Meadows
John Ratcliffe
Elise Stefanik
Lee Zeldin

Witness hearings[change | change source]

There were many witnesses who wished to testify before the Senate. The Senate voted on whether or not to allow witnesses to testify. Fifty-one votes were required to allow witnesses. There were 47 Democrats* and 53 Republicans in the Senate. All the Democrats* voted to allow witnesses to testify. Of the Republicans, Mitt Romney from Utah and Susan Collins of Maine voted to allow witnesses. This did not meet the required number of votes, and so no witnesses were allowed to testify.

Senate verdict[change | change source]

On February 5, 2020 the Senate acquitted Trump on both charges. The votes were 52-48 to acquit on the first count and 53-47 to acquit on the second count. All Democrats, both independents, and only one Republican, Mitt Romney, voted to convict. The remaining Republicans all voted to acquit.[14]

Voting results[15]
Article I
(Abuse of power)
Article II
(Obstruction of Congress)
Guilty Not guilty Guilty Not guilty
Democratic 45 00 Democratic 45 00
Republican 01 52 Republican 00 53
Independent 02 00 Independent 02 00
Totals 48 52 Totals 47 53
Not guilty Not guilty

References[change | change source]

  1. Caygle, Heather; Ferris, Sarah (January 15, 2020). "Democrats deliver impeachment articles to begin Senate trial". Politico. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  2. Fandos, Nicholas; Shear, Michael D. (December 18, 2019). "Trump Impeached for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  3. Blitzer, Ronn (January 5, 2020). "Graham gives Pelosi ultimatum, proposes Senate rule change to remove her from impeachment process". Fox News. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  4. Walsh, Deirdre; Snell, Kelsey (January 9, 2020). "Pelosi Signals An End To Her Hold On Articles Of Impeachment". Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  5. Everett, Burgess (January 9, 2020). "McConnell tells Republicans he expects impeachment trial next week". Politico. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  6. Carney, Jordain (January 9, 2020). "McConnell backs measure to change Senate rules, dismiss impeachment without articles". The Hill. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  7. Singman, Brooke (January 10, 2020). "Pelosi: House will move to transmit impeachment articles next week". Fox News. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  8. Fox, Lauren; Raju, Manu; Herb, Jeremy (January 20, 2020). "Impeachment resolution shortens trial's opening arguments to two days per side". CNN. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  9. Benjamin Siegel; Trish Turner; Katherine Faulders; Stephanie Ebbs; Quinn Owen (January 22, 2020). "Senate impeachment trial live updates: Democrats make their case against Trump". ABC News.
  10. "U.S. Senate: Impeachment".
  11. "Statement from the Press Secretary Announcing the President's Senate Trial Counsel". White House. January 17, 2020. Archived from the original on January 18, 2020. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  12. Segers, Grace (January 18, 2020). "Trump's Impeachment Legal Team Includes Familiar Faces from Clinton's Trial". CBS News. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  13. "Trump Recruits House Allies for His Defense". Politico. January 20, 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  14. "How senators voted on Trump's impeachment". Politico. February 5, 2020. Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  15. Fandos, Nicholas (February 5, 2020). "Trump Acquitted of Two Impeachment Charges in Near Party-Line Vote". The New York Times.