WASHINGTON ― Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and every senator will be sworn on Thursday as the upper chamber gets ready to begin the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump ― the third involving a president in American history.
The largely ceremonial, made-for-TV moment precedes the official start of the trial that will begin Tuesday with opening arguments from the House prosecutors, followed by a response from the president’s defense team.
The House Democrats serving as managers for the trial entered the Senate chambers around noon to formally deliver the articles, which were then read by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
At 2 p.m., Roberts, who will preside over the proceedings over the next several weeks, will be sworn in by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the president pro tempore of the Senate.
Next, Roberts will administer an oath to all senators, who are required to sit in their seats on the Senate floor to observe the ceremony. Senators will serve as jurors in the trial and will vow under oath to “do impartial justice according to the Constitution.” The Senate will then adjourn until next week.
The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump in December for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his dealings with Ukraine. The president withheld funds approved by Congress from the country and asked its president to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, his potential 2020 rival. Trump then blocked Congress from seeing documents and relevant witnesses from testifying about what happened. The White House has said Trump did nothing wrong.
During the trial, all senators will be prohibited from speaking and may only submit questions in writing to the chief justice, according to the Senate’s rules. All electronics are forbidden on the floor; senators will be required to leave their phones in a cubby outside the chamber floor. The proceedings will run six days a week, except Sundays, with each day taken up by at least 5 hours of the trial.
While Democrats have called for fact witnesses during the trial, Republicans have resisted committing to their inclusion, arguing that senators should make a decision on witness testimony after the presentation of evidence.
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