Thursday, October 29, 2020
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U.S. Senators sign book at beginning of Trump impeachment trial

The Senate impeachment trial on whether to remove U.S. President Donald Trump from office formally began on Thursday (January 16) even as a congressional watchdog found that the White House broke the law by withholding security aid for Ukraine approved by Congress.

The assessment from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office was a setback for Trump, even though it was unclear if it would figure in his trial in the Republican-led Senate given that key issues such as whether witnesses will appear or new evidence will be considered remain up in the air.

Democrat Adam Schiff, who heads a team of seven House of Representatives members who will serve as prosecutors, appeared on the Senate floor to read the two charges passed by the House on Dec. 18 accusing Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress arising from his dealings with Ukraine.

Chief Justice John Roberts, wearing his black judicial robe, was led onto the Senate floor by four senior lawmakers. He took an oath to preside over the trial and then swore in the assembled senators, instructing them to raise their right hand, asking, “Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?”

The 99 senators present signed their assent one by one. One senator – Republican Jim Inhofe – was in his home state of Oklahoma to be with a family member facing a medical issue, according to his office, but was due to sign later in the day.

Opening statements in the trial were due to start on Tuesday. The Senate is expected to acquit Trump, as none of its 53 Republicans has voiced support for removing him, a step that requires a two-thirds majority. Trump has denied wrongdoing and has called the impeachment process a sham.

(Production: Lucy Nicholson)

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