Impeachment Trial of Trump Formally Starts as Senators Are Sworn In

By Jack Phillips

The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump began in the Senate on Thursday with a reading of the House-passed articles of impeachment and a swearing-in of 100 senators in front of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.

Roberts placed his hand on the Bible after 2 p.m. ET and was sworn in by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R.-Iowa), the Senate’s president pro tempore. He then called on all 100 senators to stand to be sworn in.

Chief Justice John Roberts
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts arrives to the Senate chamber for impeachment proceedings at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 16, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The senators took an oath when they are to try the impeachment case. Justice Roberts asked them: “Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of President Donald John Trump, president of United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?”

“We do,” the senators repled.

Senators were then called to the Senate clerk’s desk to sign their names in an oath book.

Schiff and Nadler
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), front left, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and other House impeachment managers, walk to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Jan. 16, 2020. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

The House voted to transmit the two articles of impeachment on Wednesday before seven House managers named by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) carried the articles—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—to the upper chamber later that day.

Pelosi named two House chairmen who led the impeachment inquiry as prosecutors for the Senate trial: Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who led the probe, and Judiciary Chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose committee approved the impeachment articles. Other managers in the trial will include Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), Val Demmings (D-Fla.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Jason Crow (D-Colo.).

During the swearing-in, Schiff read out the two articles of impeachment on the Senate floor, saying a president can be “removed from office” for committing treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump “solicited the government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations” to bolster his chances at reelection, Schiff alleged, adding that Trump also withheld aid to Kyiv as a condition.

This moment will mark only the third time in U.S. history that a president will face the prospect of being convicted and removed from office by the Senate. But in this case, it is highly unlikely, as removal requires a 67-vote supermajority, meaning that around 20 Republicans would have to break with their party and join the Democratic minority.

After the articles were read aloud by Schiff, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote on Twitter that Democrats “manufactured” the articles of impeachment, which she described as a “sham.” They are trying to “stop [Trump] from his continued success on behalf” of the United States, she said.

Ahead of the trial, a White House spokesperson told reporters in a phone call the Trump administration does not believe the Senate trial will call any witnesses or last longer than two weeks.

“It is extraordinarily unlikely that we would be going beyond two weeks. We think that the case is overwhelming for the president and the Senate is not going to have any need to be taking that amount of time,” the senior official said.